Hypermedia and High Blood Pressure in Kids

Of course we know that childhood obesity is a problem. And children who are obese often have higher blood pressure.

But a new study shows a link between the amount of screen time a kid has and high blood pressure, no matter what size the child is.

We’ve known from previous studies that sedentary behaviors are linked to obesity, and that obesity is linked to high blood pressure, but this is the first time that we’ve linked those behaviors directly to elevated blood pressure.

The real worry here is that these kids only averaged 1.5 hours of TV a day, less than the two hours max that the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends. It’s all the other “sitting around” behavior that can lead to high blood pressure.

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The kids, aged 3 to 8, wore accelerometers to show how much they moved around. Parents were also asked to record how many sedentary tasks they performed each day. Mind you, they even kept track of awesome tasks, such as painting and reading.

But this study showed that kids who spent the least time watching the ‘tube, playing video games, and using the computer had much lower blood pressure than the kids who spent a lot of time staring at a screen. The other relaxing tasks seemed not to affect blood pressure.

It appears other factors, which occur during excessive screen time, should also be considered in the context of sedentary behavior and elevated blood pressure development in children. TV viewing often comes with unhealthy snacking behavior, and also can lead to stress responses that disrupt sleep.

The study was performed by a pairing of researchers at Michigan State University and Iowa State University. It is published online in this month’s Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

Image: paPisc on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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