Dairy foods may help lower BP in children

Related tags Blood pressure Hypertension

Foods that can help control the common incidence of blood pressure
offer growing opportunities for industry, and a recent study boosts
the case revealing that children who consistently eat more servings
of dairy foods, fruits and vegetables may have lower blood pressure
levels compared to children eating the least amount of these foods,
reports Lindsey Partos.

About two thirds of strokes and half the incidence of heart disease are attributable to raised blood pressure, according to the World Health Organisation. Globally, high blood pressure is estimated to cause 7.1 million deaths, about 13 per cent of the total and about 4.4 per cent of the total chronic disease burden.

Results of this latest study, that examined data gleaned from children aged between three and six years old in 95 families over a period of eight years, showed that children who ate a low-fat diet rich in dairy foods, fruits and vegetables had better overall blood pressure.

Study author, Lynn Moore, associate professor of medicine at Boston University School of Medicine commented: "The findings support the idea that establishing a healthy eating plan as early as preschool may have long-term health benefits. Children with lower blood pressures in adolescence are less likely to develop hypertension as young adults."

These latest findings will fuel the already burgeoning functional dairy market. Dairy foods are currently one of the biggest contributors to the growing functional food market. Together with cereals and spreads, yoghurts and yoghurt drinks accounted for around 87 per cent of the UK market's value over the 12-month period ending October 2003, according to a recent KeyNote report.

Recent innovations in the dairy sector include Zen, a magnesium-enriched fermented milk drink, launched by French firm Danone on the Belgian market this month, and an omega-3 enriched fresh milk, developed by Ireland's Dawn Dairies.

Finland's Valio has developed the Evolus brand milk, which carries a health claim for its blood pressure-lowering effect. The drink has also been licensed to an Icelandic company Mjolkursamsalan, the first product using Valio's technology to be launched outside Finland.

While findings from a recent study on a milk peptide developed by Dutch dairy ingredients firm DMV International suggest the product reduced blood pressure in people with hypertension.

The casein peptide, called C12, reduced systolic pressure in the 10 participants by an average of 9 points, while diastolic pressure fell an average of 6 points, write the researchers in the November issue of the American Journal of Hypertension​(17(11 Pt 1):1056-8).

For the US study, researchers set out to investigate if the DASH (Dietary Approaches to Stop Hypertension) diet developed by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), would be as effective in children as it is in adults in lowering blood pressure.

More than 15 per cent of school-aged children in the US diagnosed as overweight and obese, and the risk of developing chronic diseases including diabetes and high blood pressure increases significantly.

New blood pressure guidelines for children set by NHLBI brought to light the strong correlation between childhood obesity and the incidence of hypertension within that population, and earmarked childhood hypertension as a significant health issue.

Full findings of the dairy foods study are published in Epidemiology​ (Issue 1, Vol. 16, pg. 4-11).

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