By Mark Waghorn via SWNS
Children as young as SIX are developing high blood pressure...because of couch potato lifestyles, reveals new research.
Overweight youngsters are spending too much time slumped on the sofa, say doctors, and not enough in the park playing football, rugby or cricket.
They say parents are to blame - as obesity often runs in families. Instead, children need to get outside together - and burn fat with group bike rides or walks.
First author Professor Giovanni de Simone, of the University of Naples Federico II in Italy, said: "Parents are significant agents of change in the promotion of children's health behaviors.
"Very often, high blood pressure and/or obesity co-exist in the same family. But even when this is not the case, it is desirable lifestyle modifications involve all family members."
Inactivity, eating too many sugary and salty foods and excess weight account for nine in ten cases of high blood pressure in children and adolescents.
The international team's findings were based on six to 16 year-olds with hypertension across Europe.
Dietary recommendations for treating the condition include increasing consumption of fresh fruit and vegetables and other high fiber foods, cutting down on salt and avoiding fizzy drinks and saturated fat.
The latter is found in ultra-processed foods such as burgers, pizzas, chicken nuggets, chips and ready meals.
Youngsters should do at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise every day like jogging, cycling or swimming and no more than two hours on sedentary activities.
de Simone said: "Parents should monitor the amount of time their children spend watching TV or using smartphones and suggest active alternatives."
Realistic goals should be set for weight, diet and physical activity that focus on the aspects needing the most improvement.
She said: "Recording weight, eating habits and exercise over time - but without becoming obsessive - can help young people and their families to track progress towards their goals."
Writing in The European Heart Journal, de Simone and colleagues suggest a "health-promoting reward system."
She said: "Ideal incentives are those that increase social support and reinforce the value of targeted behaviours - such as a family bike ride or a walk with friends."
The document refers to childhood obesity and hypertension as "insidious siblings" which gradually become a serious health hazard.
It can increase the risk of heart attacks and stroke in later life - cutting off blood supply to major organs.
Childhood hypertension is becoming more common due to the obesity epidemic.
Obese kids can carry a spare tire round the abdomen. Dubbed love handles in adults, it is the kind you can grab with your hands - and is most damaging to health.
Fewer than two percent of normal weight children are hypertensive - compared to five and 15 percent of overweight and obese, respectively.
de Simone said: "The rise in childhood hypertension is of great concern as it is associated with persistence of hypertension and other cardiovascular problems during adulthood."
Early diagnosis of elevated blood pressure is crucial so it can be managed with lifestyle and, if needed, medications.
Even one blood pressure measurement by a doctor or nurse can identify children with high blood pressure - but a second visit is recommended for confirmation.
de Simone added: "Screening should be performed in the primary care setting at least yearly, regardless of symptoms.
"This is because hypertension in children, as in adults, is usually asymptomatic."
High blood pressure is known as the silent killer. It was once only associated with adults.
Previous generations of children spent much more time playing in the streets or parks with their friends - long before the advent of social media changed priorities.
When blood pressure measurements point to hypertension, a medical history and physical examination determine potential causes and identify behaviors.
Information includes family history of hypertension and cardiovascular disease along with birth weight and gestational age.
Details on lifestyle such as smoking, salt intake, alcohol consumption, physical exercise and leisure time activities are also taken.
Signs can include headache, nosebleeds, vertigo, visual impairment, low school performance, attention difficulties, shortness of breath, chest pain, palpitations and fainting.
In the early stages, treatment of childhood hypertension should focus on education and behavior change.
If blood pressure goals are not achieved, a single low-dose drug should be introduced. If one drug is ineffective, small doses of two drugs may be needed.
The research team called for public health agencies to prioritize prevention and management of hypertension in children and adolescents.
For example, campaigns to increase awareness of the risks of high blood pressure in young people and the positive impact of a healthy lifestyle including physical activity, a nutritious diet low in salt and sugar, and not smoking.
Other recommended actions include protected time for children on TV and social media without promotion of junk food or potentially deleterious lifestyle habits.
The UK has one of the worst rates of childhood obesity in Europe. A quarter of five year-olds are overweight or obese - rising to more than four in ten adolescents.
Stories and infographics by ‘Talker Research’ are available to download & ready to use. Stories and videos by ‘Talker News’ are managed by SWNS. To license content for editorial or commercial use and to see the full scope of SWNS content, please email email@example.com or submit an inquiry via our contact form.
Trabajadores dicen que es ‘caos absoluto’ si olvidan algo durante su turno
Para tres de cada cuatro trabajadores de primera línea, olvidarse de hacer una tarea en el trabajo puede crear caos...
Otherworldly images captured at SpaceX launch
"Truly a spectacle."
Hurricane Ian floods homes in Florida’s Key West
Footage shows one home completely flooded and in darkness due to the widespread blackouts.
Esta es la parte ‘más hangry’ de los Estados Unidos
Nunca te metas con una persona "hangry". Una encuesta reciente de 2,000 adultos estadounidenses encontró que el 74% admite que...
Using frozen embryos for IVF could up risk of high blood pressure during pregnancy
Researchers said women who had frozen embryo IVF conceptions were 74% more likely to develop hypertensive disorders than those who...
- Outer Space2 days ago
Astronaut takes enchanting picture of ‘space angel’
- Fashion & Beauty18 hours ago
Influencer shares trick to curling hair without curling iron
- Food & Drink18 hours ago
Where is the ‘hangriest’ place in the United States?
- Nature3 days ago
World’s largest collection of rare orchid discovered growing along military base
- Pets3 days ago
Nearly 80% say the best part of their day is coming home to their pet
- Shopping2 days ago
Shoppers willing to pay more than double for things that have this
- Personal Finance3 days ago
7 out of 10 Americans intimidated about investing their money
- Health2 days ago
Man’s skin turns grey after taking commonly prescribed pill