Effectiveness of dietary intervention in children and adolescents with elevated blood pressure

Monika Jadhav, The University of Texas School of Public Health


Hypertension is a known risk factor for cardiovascular disease in adults. Essential hypertension in children and adolescents is increasing in prevalence in the United States, and hypertension in children may track into adulthood. This increasing prevalence is attributed to the trends of increasing overweight and obese children and adolescents. Family history and being of African-American/black descent may predispose youth to elevated blood pressure. Interventions targeted to reduce and treat hypertension in youth include non-pharmaceutical interventions such as weight reduction, increased physical activity, and dietary changes and pharmaceutical treatment when indicated. The effectiveness of non-pharmaceutical interventions is well documented in adults, but there are limited studies with regards to children and adolescents, specifically in the arena of dietary interventions. Lifestyle modifications such as dietary interventions are the mainstay of recommended treatment for those children and adolescents with prehypertension or stage 1 hypertension. Given the association of being overweight and hypertension, efficacy of dietary interventions are of interest because of reduced cost, easy implementation and potential for multiple beneficial outcomes such as reduced weight and reduction of other metabolic or cardiovascular derangements. Barriers to dietary interventions often include socioeconomic status, ethnicity, personal, and external factors. The goal of this systematic review of the literature is to identify interventions targeted to children and adolescents that focus on recommended dietary changes related to blood pressure. Dietary interventions found for this review mostly focused on a particular nutrient or food group with the one notable exception that focused on the DASH pattern of eating. The effects of the interventions on blood pressure varied, but overall dietary modifications can be achieved in youth and can serve a role in producing positive outcomes on blood pressure. Increasing potassium and following a DASH diet seemed to provide the most clinically significant results. Further studies are still needed to evaluate long-term effectiveness and to contribute more supporting evidence for particular modifications in these age cohorts.

Subject Area

Public health

Recommended Citation

Jadhav, Monika, "Effectiveness of dietary intervention in children and adolescents with elevated blood pressure" (2009). Texas Medical Center Dissertations (via ProQuest). AAI1470101.