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With childhood obesity on the rise, it’s no wonder current studies are finding that high blood pressure is also being found in more and more children today. In severe cases of childhood hypertension, doctors also test for kidney disease, heart defects and hormone disorders. According to current studies, obesity and higher salt intake are the culprits.
A recent study showed that 19.2 percent of US boys and 12.6 percent of girls between 8-17 years old were found to have high blood pressure. Survey results proved that kids with the greatest sodium intake (more than 3,450 mg daily!) were 36% more likely to be diagnosed with high blood pressure. Like adults, increased high blood pressure in children has been linked to higher weight, larger waistlines and often stems from higher processed food consumption.
Current dietary guidelines for Americans have recommended that adults should consume less than 2,300 milligrams of sodium per day. However, adults are still consuming an average of 3,400 milligrams per day, according to the CDC, and this habit is filtering down to children. According to Dr. Bonita Falkner, a study researcher and professor of medicine and pediatrics at Thomas Jefferson University, “Parents need to do everything they can to prevent obesity in their child, which can be extraordinarily challenging.”
What can you do for your child? The most effective treatment for children with elevated blood pressure is lifestyle changes, such as following a healthier diet and engaging in more physical activity. Hidden salt in processed food is a big issue. Falkner suggests making sure children are eating more real food and limiting processed food to a minimum. This could help your child maintain a healthy body and avoid obesity.
If your child is at risk, try using a home blood pressure monitor to keep track of his/her heart numbers at home! This is a great way to make sure you're child is on track to better health. Also, if your child is at risk for heart disease, be sure they know how to use a heart rate monitor during strenuous physical activity just to be safe. Everyone should be educated on heart health - why not start with our children?