Lifestyle factors are determinants of children's blood pressure levels: the CYKIDS study Academic Article uri icon


  • Elevated blood pressure (BP) levels represent an important risk factor for cardiovascular disease. Lifestyle factors associated with increased BP levels have been extensively investigated in adults, but not in children. Therefore, we aimed to explore associations among modifiable lifestyle and levels of BP in 10- to13-year-old children. A subsample of the CYKIDS (CYprus KIDS) national cross-sectional study consisting of 622 children (11.7+/-0.83 years) was used to evaluate the research hypothesis. Measurements included BP, height, weight and waist circumference. Body mass index (BMI) was calculated according to the International Obesity Task Force (IOTF) criteria. Adherence to the Mediterranean diet was assessed by the KIDMED (Mediterranean Diet Quality Index for children and adolescents) diet score, whereas physical activity was assessed through a physical activity index. Results have shown that the cutoff value of 120/80 mm Hg was significantly associated with various lifestyle indices. BMI was positively associated with systolic BP (SBP)>120 mm Hg (odds ratio (OR)=1.21, 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.11-1.32); diastolic BP (DBP)>80 mm Hg (OR=1.13, 95% CI 1.01-1.27) and SBP/DBP>120/80 mm Hg (OR=1.20, 95% CI 1.10-1.31). Moreover, children who reported that they frequently eat while watching television were about two times more likely to have elevated SBP or overall BP, whereas children with low socioeconomic status levels were more than 2.5 times more likely to have elevated BP levels. Finally, compared with those with low KIDMED score, children with at least an average [corrected] score were 75% less likely to have elevated DBP levels, whereas they exhibited a nonsignificant trend for lower SBP (by 29%) and lower overall BP levels (by 30%). Similar results emerged when the above analyses were repeated using the American reference values. Conclusively, our study suggests that lifestyle factors play an important role in determining BP levels in children; a finding that underlines the importance of lifestyle modifications in children.

publication date

  • July 2009