Study: Excessive TV Viewing Leads to High Blood Pressure in Teens

Researchers believe they have established the first scientifically supported link between television watching and high blood pressure in adolescents. The study, led by Dr. Nicolas Stettler of the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, examined the correlation between lifestyle choices (ie. engaging in “sedentary” activities) and blood pressure and found that sedentary activities such as watching TV may lead to an increase in systolic blood pressure levels.

According to Dr. Stettler, “This is the first research to show a direct and independent connection between TV watching and higher blood pressure among adolescents.” The study included 4,508 respondents of the 1999–2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, between the ages of 12 and 19. Doctors also discovered, not surprisingly, that an increased body mass index (BMI) leads to higher systolic blood pressure, but they found that a higher BMI may work to lower diastolic blood pressure in adolescents as well a much more unexpected result that may not be the same for adults.

“It was already known that physical activity lowers blood pressure in both adults and children, but sedentary activity is not just the opposite of physical activity,” Dr. Stettler noted. “For example, other studies have found that decreasing sedentary activity in young people helps prevent or treat obesity better than interventions to increase physical activity.”

“Elevated blood pressure is one of the most important risk factors for cardiovascular diseases and stroke,” said co-author Takehiro Sugiyama, a medical student at the University of Tokyo. “High blood pressure in adolescents is predictive of hypertension in adulthood, and in addition, adolescent obesity is a predictor of obesity and cardiovascular risk factors in young adulthood and beyond.”

Added co-author Yasuki Kobayashi, also of the University of Tokyo, “Interventions to decrease sedentary activities may have an important public health impact.”

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