An increasing number of children are diagnosed with high blood pressure (hypertension) and obesity/overweight, eating an unhealthy diet, and living a sedentary lifestyle increase the risk. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in September 2014, more than 90 percent of children aged 6 to 18 in the United States consume too much sodium. About 43 percent of this sodium comes from these foods:

  • Pizza
  • Bread/rolls
  • Cold cuts/cured meats (e.g., hot dogs)
  • Salty snacks
  • Sandwiches
  • Cheese
  • Processed chicken (nuggets, patties, etc.)
  • Pasta dishes
  • Mexican dishes
  • Soups

Heart disease or kidney diseases can also cause hypertension in children.

Under the direction of a qualified health care provider, children who have high blood pressure may benefit from regular exercise and dietary changes, including the following:

  • Eat an abundance of fresh fruits and vegetables every day.
  • Reduce saturated fat and cholesterol intake.
  • Choose foods with less sodium and don't add salt.
  • Eliminate trans fats (found in foods with hydrogenated or partially-hydrogenated oils).

These dietary changes may be helpful, even if children require prescription medication for high blood pressure. Because high blood pressure is a risk factor for heart disease, please see nutrition recommendations for Heart Disease & Nutrition for Children for more information.

Changes made to accommodate high blood pressure in children can help the whole family eat healthier. However, the amount of fat in the diet should not be restricted in children under the age of 2, unless directed to by a qualified health care provider. Their faster growth rate and developmental needs require more calories from fat.

Updated by Remedy Health Media

Publication Review By: Jagdish Patel, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Published: 28 Feb 2007

Last Modified: 21 Sep 2015