Status of Cardiovascular Health in US Adolescents: Prevalence Estimates from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys (NHANES) 2005-2010
Background—The American Heart Association (AHA) recently developed definitions and metrics for monitoring the spectrum of cardiovascular health in adolescents and children. Current nationally-representative prevalence estimates according to sex and race/ethnicity are unavailable.
Methods and Results—We examined the components of cardiovascular health in 4,673 participants aged 12-19 years (representing approximately 33.2 million U.S. adolescents) from the 2005-2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. Population prevalence of individual cardiovascular health behaviors and factors were estimated according to AHA criteria for poor, intermediate, and ideal levels. Ideal blood pressure was most prevalent (males, 78%; females, 90%) whereas a dramatically low prevalence of ideal Healthy Diet Score was observed (males, <1%; females, <1%). Females exhibited lower prevalence of ideal total cholesterol (65% vs.72%, respectively) and ideal physical activity levels, (44 vs. 67%, respectively) yet higher prevalence of ideal blood glucose (89 vs.74%, respectively) compared to males. Approximately two-thirds of adolescents exhibited ideal BMI (males, 66%; females, 67%) and ideal smoking status (males, 67%; females, 70%). Less than 50% of adolescents exhibited 5+ ideal CV health components (45%, males; 50%, females). Prevalence estimates according to sex were consistent across race/ethnic groups.
Conclusions—The low prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health behaviors in U.S. adolescents — particularly physical activity and dietary intake — will likely contribute to worsening prevalence of obesity, hypertension, hypercholesterolemia, and dysglycemia as the current U.S. adolescent population reaches adulthood. Population-wide emphasis on establishment of ideal cardiovascular health behaviors early in life is essential for maintenance of ideal CV health throughout the lifespan.
- Received January 24, 2013.
- Accepted February 21, 2013.