Using 2001-’16 data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, they
analyzed the status of just over 12,000 12- to 19-year-olds and published the findings
today in Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.
Under the new guidelines, prevalence of hypertension from 2013-’16 ranged from 1.88%
in healthy children to 14.7% of those with severe obesity. About 2.6% of teens would
be reclassified as having hypertension, and those youths often were male, 18-19 years
old or have obesity.
“Clinicians and public health professionals transitioning to the new guideline might
expect more youths to be classified as having hypertension,” authors wrote. “Efforts
to address hypertension in youths include lifestyle and environmental strategies that
promote cardiovascular health.”
When applying either set of guidelines consistently over previous years, the hypertension
rate has declined. Under the old standards, it dropped from 3.2% in 2001 to 1.5% in
2016. New guidelines showed rates dropping during that time from 7.7% to 4.2%. These
improvements came even as obesity increased from 17.8% in 2001-’04 to 21.8% from 2013-’16.
Early interventions, improvements in diet and increases in medication use may have
contributed to the hypertension declines, according to the report. However, authors
said because the causes are uncertain, the declining hypertension prevalence should
be interpreted cautiously.
Pediatricians will be able to get more guidance from an upcoming AAP technical report that supplements the 2017 guidelines.