Wednesday, July 17th, 2013
The high volume of salt-laden snack foods consumed by American children is the culprit cited in an article published in the journal Hypertension for a marked rise in cases of high blood pressure among US kids and teens. The percentage of kids between ages 8 and 17 with high blood pressure–a major risk factor for cardiovascular disease, heart attacks, and strokes–has increased 27 percent over the past 13 years, according to researchers. More from NBC News:
The new research, published Monday in the journal Hypertension, positively links rising blood pressure to increasing body mass index, especially waist circumference, and sodium intake. In short, far too many American children are too fat and eating too many salty snacks.
More than a third of children and teens in the United States are overweight or obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “The reason we’re seeing high blood pressure in kids, is due to the obesity epidemic,” said pediatrician Dr. Joanna Dolgoff.
Dolgoff has been seeing elevated blood pressure in so many of her young patients, she thought her equipment was broken.
“Recently, I’ve been a lot more of my patients having high blood pressure,” Dolgoff, a child obesity expert and creator of the “Red Light, Green Light, Eat Right” nutrition program, said. “I thought perhaps my blood pressure machine was broken. But actually the incidence of high blood pressure in children is increasing.”
Being overweight is a key risk factor for high blood pressure in adults so “it stands to reason that it would be the same in children,” said Dolgoff.
Image: Child having blood pressure taken, via Shutterstock
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Friday, March 22nd, 2013
The foods that many American babies and toddlers are eating contains too much sodium, according to new information compiled by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and presented to a scientific meeting of the American Heart Association. Consuming too much sodium can lead to elevated risk of heart disease and high blood pressure, among other things. From a release announcing the findings:
In the first study to look at the sodium content in U.S. baby and toddler foods, researchers compared the sodium content per serving of 1,115 products for babies and toddlers using data on major and private label brands compiled by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Baby food was categorized as intended for children less than one year old, and toddler food was categorized as intended for children between the ages of one and three.
A product was defined as high in sodium if it had more than 210 mg of sodium per serving. Toddler meals had significantly higher amounts of sodium than baby meals, and the amount of sodium in some of the toddler meals was as high as 630 mg per serving – about 40 percent of the 1,500 mg daily limit recommended by the American Heart Association. The foods with the most sodium were savory snacks and meals for toddlers.
“Our concern is the possible long-term health risks of introducing high levels of sodium in a child’s diet, because high blood pressure, as well as a preference for salty foods may develop early in life. The less sodium in an infant’s or toddler’s diet, the less he or she may want it when older,” said Joyce Maalouf, M.S., M.P.H., ORISE, lead author and Fellow at the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, Georgia.
The American Heart Association recommends limiting sodium consumption to less than 1500 mg a day. Sodium is in regular table salt and many foods, including most prepared meals and snacks for toddlers.
The CDC listed the following 10 foods as the biggest sodium culprits affecting Americans from ages 2-19:
- Bread and rolls
- Cold cuts and processed meats
- Savory snacks
- Mixed pasta dishes
- Frankfurters and sausages
Image: Salt, via Shutterstock
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Tuesday, September 18th, 2012
U.S. children are consuming as much salt on average as American adults, and as a result face an elevated risk of health problems including elevated blood pressure and even heart disease, according to a new report published in the journal Pediatrics. CNN.com has more:
Health experts recommend that most people eat no more than 2,300 milligrams of salt a day, the equivalent of 1 teaspoon. But children and adults alike are consuming, on average, about 3,400 milligrams daily, according to the study.
The study authors found that when young people increased their daily salt levels by 1,000 milligrams, the risk for high blood pressure increased 74% for overweight or obese youngsters, but only 6% for kids in the normal weight range. The researchers looked at more than 6,200 young people, ages 8 to 18. More than a third were overweight or obese and 15% had elevated or high blood pressure.
Most of the salt we consume is already in the foods we eat, not what we add at the dinner table.
Breads and rolls, cold cuts, pizza, fresh and processed poultry, soups, sandwiches, cheese, pasta dishes, meat dishes and snacks are the top 10 food sources that account for 44% of sodium consumed, according a report released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in February.
“If you have high blood pressure in childhood, it’s likely that the effects will last into adulthood. Increased blood pressure is one of the most significant risk factors for cardiovascular disease (heart disease),” explains lead study author Quanhe Yang, who works with the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Image: Salt shaker, via Shutterstock
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Wednesday, June 20th, 2012
A growing number of children are being hospitalized for hypertension and high blood pressure, a new study published in the American Heart Association’s journal, Hypertension, has found. The study showed a sharp increase from 12,661 hospitalizations in 1997 to 24,602 in 2006. CNN.com reports that the increase in childhood obesity is a likely cause of the trend:
The researchers reviewed hospital discharge data for the study. They included all children aged 2 to 18 who were treated for hypertension during hospitalizations, regardless of their primary diagnosis or the main reason why they were hospitalized.
Those most likely to have high blood pressure were older than 9, male and African-American, according to the study. Some had end-stage renal (kidney) disease.
The study found children with hypertension had an average length of stay of eight days- double that of non-hypertensive kids.
Childhood obesity may play a role in the sharp increase in hospitalizations.
American Heart Association spokesman Dr. Ernesto Schiffrin from the Department of Medicine at McGill University, Montreal, Quebec said obesity seems to be an even stronger risk factor for high blood pressure in children than it is in adults.
“Increasingly, these are children with essential hypertension- this is consequence of the epidemic of obesity and diabetes that is found increasingly in teenagers and younger children,” he said.
“If we are going to prevent adult hypertension, we have to start at this early age by avoiding obesity, cutting back on salt and exercising- otherwise this will increase further the prevalence of adult hypertension and the huge costs that will occur accordingly.”
Image: Child getting blood pressure taken, via Shutterstock.
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