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