Review studies have reported that, on average, hypertension affects 33.2% of people in developing countries and also to 40.8% in developed ones, although there is a significant worldwide variation. However, this problem does not only affect the adult population. The metanalysis of Kavey et al. reported that between 1% and 5% of children and adolescents in the world, were hypertensive. Recent studies conducted in geographic and ethnically diverse countries like the United States, Canada, Venezuela, Mexico, India and China have shown that these values have risen in recent years in parallel with the progressive increase in childhood obesity. In the study on high school students, conducted by McNiece et al., the prevalence of High Blood Pressure (HBP) was over 30% in obese boys and from 23% to 30% in obese girls, depending on ethnicity. In this sense, the authors found a close association between Blood Pressure (BP) and weight excess in Spanish schoolchildren, confirming that between 6 and 16 years, the risk of hypertension increases significantly with Body Mass Index (BMI), fat percentage, and abdominal adiposity measured by the Waist to Height Ratio (WtHR).
During childhood, HBP is associated with certain health problems, such as left ventricular hypertrophy, thickening of the carotid vessel wall, retinal vascular changes, and even subtle cognitive changes. There is also evidence that BP levels in infancy predict BP later in life, so that prevention of childhood hypertension is the first step to reduce cardiovascular disease in adults. Preventive measures are aimed at reducing excess weight, through physical activity and improving diet, increasing consumption of vegetable foods rich in potassium, calcium and magnesium, and lowering the intake of meat and rich products in fat and sodium. This kind of diet known as DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) has also been recommended by the Committee on Atherosclerosis, Hypertension, and Obesity in the Young (AHOY) dependent on the American Heart Association and its effectiveness has been proven at the clinical level.