The associations between elevated blood pressure and overweight, on one hand, and the increasing prevalence over time of pediatric overweight, on the other hand, suggest that the prevalence of elevated blood pressure could have increased in children over the last few decades. In this article we review the epidemiologic evidence available on the prevalence of elevated blood pressure in children and trends over time. On the basis of the few large population-based surveys available, the prevalence of elevated blood pressure is fairly high in several populations, whereas there is little direct evidence that blood pressure has increased during the past few decades despite the concomitant epidemic of pediatric overweight. However, a definite conclusion cannot be drawn yet because of the paucity of epidemiologic studies that have assessed blood pressure trends in the same populations and the lack of standardized methods used for the measurement of blood pressure and the definition of elevated blood pressure in children. Additional studies should examine if favorable secular trends in other determinants of blood pressure (eg, dietary factors, birth weight, etc) may have attenuated the apparently limited impact of the epidemic of overweight on blood pressure in children.
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