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Global Prevalence of Hypertension in Children. A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis

Peige Song, PhD; Yan Zhang, MSc; Jinyue Yu, MD; et al

7 October 2019

A new systematic review and meta-analysis assessed the prevalence of hypertension in children and adolescents (aged 19 years and younger) in 47 studies that took repeated blood pressure measurements on at least 3 separate occasions.

Over the past 15 years (2000 – 2015), observations found the prevalence of childhood hypertension increased. Between 2010 and 2014 the prevalence of hypertension in children was the highest at 6.02%, followed by 3.30% during the 2000’s and 1.26% in 1990’s.

A difference was also observed in the children’s BMI, with the highest prevalence shown in obese children, 15.27%, compared to overweight, 4.99%, and children with normal weight, 1.90%.

In this paper, blood pressure was treated as a categorical variable (i.e., normotension, pre-hypertension, stage 1, stage 2, etc), and not as a continuous one (i.e., blood pressure expressed in mmHg).

This means that it may well be possible that some increase in BP within each categories of blood pressure has not been captured. For example, it could be that normotensive children and adolescents had an average increase in BP over time, but not gone over the threshold to be categorised as pre-hypertensives yet. 

Essential hypertension in adulthood is associated with childhood hypertension, leading to an increase risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes.

 

Katharine Jenner, Campaign Director for Action on Salt says "High blood pressure used to be thought of as an ‘old person’s disease’, not any more.  Unhealthy lifestyle choices such as being overweight, eating too much salt and not enough fruits and vegetables, and not doing enough exercise, are no longer taking 30 or 40 years to manifest, but instead are presenting as diseases such as hypertension in childhood.  

The food industry is shortening our children's lives by drowning us in food and drink full of salt, fat and sugar, advertising it irresponsibly to children and putting it on promotion, and they must be held to account.

This should be a stark reminder to the Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock to now commit Public Health England to setting new and ambitious salt targets for 2020, to release the calorie reduction plans and set restrictions on unhealthy food advertising and promotion."

 

Read the full paper here

 

 

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