A study published in the American Heart association journal hypertension reveals that inadequate nutrition in children can have a long lasting impact on children, resulting in chronic health conditions. The research has relevance on a global scale, including the United States, and represents the public health impact that can be made to prevent long term risk of chronic heart and metabolic diseases, by simply providing adequate nutrition.
The research conducted by the University of Jamaica compared 116 adults who endured malnutrition while growing up compared to 45 men and women who received adequate nutrition as children. The research participants were measured for height, weight and blood pressure levels and underwent tests to evaluate heart function.
The results demonstrate conclusively that adults who were malnourished in children had higher diastolic blood pressure readings (the bottom number in a blood pressure measurement); higher peripheral resistance (a measurement of the resistance to blood flow in smaller vessels); less efficient pumping of the heart.
“If nutritional needs are not met during this time, when structures of the body are highly susceptible to potentially irreversible change, it could have long-term consequences on heart anatomy and blood flow later in life,” said Terrence Forrester, Ph.D., study senior author and chief scientist, UWI Solutions for Developing Countries, at the University of the West Indies, Mona, in Kingston, Jamaica.
“We are concerned that millions of people globally who suffer malnutrition before or after birth are at increased risk of hypertension in later life,” Forrester said.
The study is not only of concern for children that are underweight but also for those children who are obese, yet malnourished, as they are not receiving an adequate amount of balanced nutrition.
Ingrid A. Tennant, Alan T. Barnett, Debbie S. Thompson, Jan Kips, Michael S. Boyne, Edward E. Chung, Andrene P. Chung, Clive Osmond, Mark A. Hanson, Peter D. Gluckman, Patrick Segers, J. Kennedy Cruickshank, and Terrence E. Forrester. Impaired Cardiovascular Structure and Function in Adult Survivors of Severe Acute Malnutrition. Hypertension, June 2014 DOI: 10.1161/HYPERTENSIONAHA.114.03230