Diet and lack of physical activity cause 90% of cases of high blood pressure in children

Diet and lack of physical activity cause 90% of cases of high blood pressure in children

Lack of physical activity, high adherence to diets high in salt and sugar and being overweight are responsible for cases of high blood pressure in 9 out of 10 children and adolescents, according to a study published by experts from the European Society of Cardiology, in the European Heart Journal.

The document, released at the end of July, presents data on young people between the ages of 6 and 16 and recommends changes in habits so that families stay healthy together. According to the authors, parents are important and fundamental agents for this change to occur.

The article also states that hypertension and obesity in children are becoming increasingly common – especially abdominal obesity, the most dangerous for heart health.

“Today, any child or teenager goes to the school canteen and buys what they want. This obviously allows them to choose a more palatable food, which is fast food. obesity levels are exploding. Consequently, blood pressure levels too”, warns Gustavo Foronda, pediatric cardiologist at Hospital Israelita Albert Einstein.

early diagnosis

According to experts, early diagnosis of childhood hypertension is essential so that it can be controlled only with lifestyle changes, without the need for medication. As it is an asymptomatic and silent problem, it is recommended that the child’s blood pressure be evaluated at least once a year in consultation with the pediatrician.

The ideal blood pressure levels are not like in adults – there are levels established for each age group, according to the child’s body surface and arm circumference. To get the correct value, you need to measure properly.

“There is a table to determine the appropriate pressure levels for each moment of life. Ideally, the clinician or pediatrician should measure the child’s pressure in routine consultations. We know that this is not a regular practice, but increasingly they are becoming aware of this need”, says Foronda.

According to the cardiologist, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that blood pressure begin to be measured in all children from the age of 3.

Change in lifestyle

If there is a suspicion that lifestyle is the main cause of hypertension, changing habits is the first guideline. This does not only involve the child, but the whole family, as high blood pressure and obesity often coexist in the same family.

“It’s no use trying to change the habits of a child in isolation. In general, when you have a sedentary, obese or hypertensive child, this is usually a reflection of the family. If you don’t treat the family as a whole, the chance of the child adhering to the changes is very low”, says Foronda.

Dietary recommendations included in the study published by the European Society of Cardiology include: emphasizing a diet rich in fresh vegetables, fruits and fiber-rich foods; limit salt intake; and avoid the consumption of sugar and saturated fat.

In addition, scientists highlight the importance of performing at least one hour of moderate to intense physical activity a day (such as cycling, swimming, or running) and not spending more than hard hours in sedentary activities (such as watching TV, playing games) video game or stay on tablet and cell phone).

The document also guides that realistic goals should be established for weight loss, diet and physical activity, always focusing efforts on aspects that need further improvement.

The consensus of physicians also suggests that advances in the evolution of weight loss, improvement in eating habits and physical activity should be recorded to monitor progress.

“The great difficulty in treating childhood hypertension is that we need to treat obesity and overweight together. Hypertension is a silent disease that does not cause any apparent harm. It is necessary to change the lifestyle of an entire family for the treatment. This takes time and we often don’t have a quick answer”, concludes the cardiologist.

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