THURSDAY, Sept. 6, 2018 — Poor nutrition increases a child’s risk of high blood pressure, a new study finds.

Researchers analyzed national health survey data for 2007 to 2014 from more than 7,200 U.S. kids between 8 and 17 years of age.

More than one-fifth lacked good access to nutritious foods, and more than 12 percent overall had high blood pressure.

Among kids with poor nutrition, 14.4 percent had high blood pressure, compared to 11.6 percent among those with nutritious food available.

When obesity and other factors were taken into account, lack of access to nutritious food was still associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, according to the study presented Thursday at an American Heart Association meeting, in Chicago.

“High blood pressure — even in childhood — matters,” said study author Dr. Andrew Michael South. He’s an assistant professor of pediatric nephrology at Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C.

“As a kid, if you have high blood pressure, you’re at much higher risk of having high blood pressure as an adult — as young as in your 20s or early 30s. And hypertension sets the stage for other bad health problems because it impacts the heart and kidneys,” South explained in a meeting news release.

About 40 million Americans, including 6 million children and adolescents, lack regular access to nutritious food. That can lead to poor diet quality and increased salt intake, he said.

“We know that people who consume higher salt diets have a higher risk of developing and maintaining high blood pressure than those who eat normal amounts of salt,” South said.

Research presented at meetings is typically considered preliminary until published in a peer-reviewed journal.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on high blood pressure in children.

Posted: September 2018

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