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Watching TV, playing endless TV games and of course, looting the grocery cabinet were the most common things many households did during the harrowing period of lockdown. Since the past year, this season has completely slowed down routines and movements for many people. Readjusting has been quite challenging – especially when it comes to being physically active and making healthy lifestyle choices.

The SA National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) has reported a combined overweight and obesity prevalence of 13.5% in children aged 6 -14 — about 10% higher than the global prevalence. This raises some serious concerns as this increases children’s risk to lifestyle diseases that could occur now or at a later stage in their lives.

According to a Pediatric expert, Dr Nosipho Maponya, there has been an upward trend in children with hypertension – both inherited and due to lifestyle choices. “Parents need to be informed about ailments such as pediatric hypertension because it leads to detrimental complications like kidney and heart failure, stroke and blindness if not treated.

As we observe hypertension awareness month, we unpack why knowing your family’s medical history can empower you to approach your child’s health better, and we also look at steps to relooking your child’s lifestyle choices that may make them prone to ailments such as hypertension.

What is hypertension?

Hypertension, also known as high blood pressure (HBP) is a common medical condition that significantly increases the risk of heart, brain, and other diseases.

Hypertension is when your blood pressure (the force of blood pushing against the walls of your blood vessels) is consistently high.

Know your family medical history

“Ailments like hypertension can be inherited, therefore, it is important for one to know their family medical history for early monitoring, and for treatment to be initiated as early as possible,” says Dr Maponya.

Cardiologist, Dr Musa Mayayise, however highlights that “there is no such thing as a primary gene for hypertension, however, it can be possible to delay or prevent the diagnosis and complications of hypertension by practicing healthy living and regularly checking blood pressure.’’

He further emphasises that, “it is advisable for a person with a family history of hypertension, to go for a regular check-up – at least once a year. Beyond hypertension, the check-up would include other risk factors such as blood glucose (sugar) and cholesterol.’’

Initiate creative ways to get your children active.

“I always encourage parents to be active themselves because children generally emulate their parent’s behaviour,” says Potso Mpandawana, Pre and Postnatal Coach and Fitness Expert. ‘’For example, include your child in a safe short jogging session, schedule family hiking trips or just take a walk with them. Alternatively, if you can’t go outdoors, use resources around the house. With the advancement of technology, parents can make use of age-appropriate work out videos or fun dance routines. These little movements and actions make a huge difference,” she adds.

Be intentional about monitoring the food your child consumes

Dr Maponya advises the following lifestyle choices parents should keep on track:

·       Try to maintain your child’s weight by making sure they eat plenty of fruits and vegetables

·       Avoid food with too much sugar and saturated fats

·       Reduce salt

·       Beware of caffeine and drugs (for example, some flu medication) that increase blood pressure

Let’s always keep in mind that it’s the little things that count. Children rely on us as parents to guide them into making the right lifestyle choices, so start now before it’s too late.

For more info, you may reach out to our experts here:

Dr Nosipho Maponya, Paediatrician at Mediclinic Muelmed Hospital

Tel: 012 4400820

Email: nozi.maponya@absamail.co.za

Dr Musa Mayayise, Cardiologist at Mediclinic Heart Hospital

Tel: +2712 4401045

Email: info@drmayayise.co.za

wwww.drmayayise.co.za

Potso Mpandawana

Tel: 072 392 3949

Email: bkeagile@gmail.com