Lipid levels in children down, BP not so much

January 29, 2015

Lipid profiles of children have improved modestly since 1999, but high or borderline high blood pressure (BP) has hardly budged, a new study reports.

Children’s lipid profiles have improved modestly since 1999, but high or borderline high blood pressure (BP) has hardly budged, a new study reports.

Researchers examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) across 7 periods from 1999-2000 to 2011-2012 for noninstitutionalized children aged 8 to 17 years with measured lipid concentrations (1482 children) and blood pressure (1665 children). They evaluated linear trends in unfavorable lipid concentrations-total cholesterol (TC) ≥200 mg/dL, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) <40 mg/dL, and non-HDL-C ≥145 mg/dL-and high or borderline high BP.

The NHANES data for 2011-2012 showed that 20.2% of the children overall had dyslipidemia, and 11% had high or borderline high BP. Between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012, the prevalence of unfavorable TC levels decreased from 10.6% to 7.8%; adverse HDL-C prevalence fell from 17.9% to 12.8%; and the prevalence of adverse non-HDL-C dropped from 13.6% to 8.4%.

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By contrast, no significant changes occurred in the prevalence of borderline hypertension (7.6% in 1999-2000; 9.4% in 2011-2012) or among children classified as having either overt or borderline hypertension (10.6% in 1999-2000; 11% in 2011-2012). The only group for which hypertension prevalence declined (from 3% to 1.6%) consisted of children and teenagers with the highest BP (systolic or diastolic pressure in the 95th percentile or above).

The researchers couldn’t explain the contrasting trends in dyslipidemia and hypertension. They speculate that changes in body mass index and declines in smoking and television viewing among high school students since 1999 might be contributing factors. 

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