Food Insecurity Tied to Hypertension in Kids

CHICAGO — Food insecurity was linked to childhood hypertension in a nationally representative dataset, according to a research group that also found that obesity moderates the association between the two in low-income settings.

One in five children ages 8-17 reportedly lived in a household with limited availability of nutritious food in 2007-2014, data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) showed.

High blood pressure (BP) was more likely among these kids (14.4% versus 11.6% for “food-secure” peers, OR 1.25, 95% CI 1.04-1.50), said Andrew South, MD, and colleagues of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., at a poster presented at Hypertension 2018, which is jointly sponsored by the American Heart Association and the American Society of Hypertension.

“We found that food insecurity was associated with an increased likelihood of high BP in a large, nationally representative cohort of U.S. children and adolescents, independent of obesity. Food insecurity likely has a significant impact on health and cardiovascular disease during childhood, so efforts to address food insecurity will also help reduce the burden of cardiovascular disease in children and in later adulthood,” South suggested.

There were 7,125 children included in the study. Hypertension was defined as systolic or diastolic BP in at least the 90th percentile (age <13 years) or at least 120 mm Hg (if older); in NHANES, BP was an average of three measurements. Food security was evaluated using the U.S. Department of Agriculture Food Security Survey Module.

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