The number of young people hospitalized with high blood pressure has nearly doubled in recent years, according to a new report published in the American Heart Association journal Hypertension.
The increase is due largely to a rise in overweight children. Researchers found that about 17 percent of kids and teens are now obese.
Based on that number and data showing an increase of pediatric hospitalizations from 12,000 to 24,000 in less than 10 years, the group estimated between 1 and 3 percent of children in the U.S. have hypertension.
"Oftentimes we think that [hypertension] is a disease of adults," professor of pediatrics Dr. Debbie Gipson, the study's author, said.
"This reminds us that our children have hypertension, and they have it enough that they end up in the hospital," she added.
Obese children are more likely to have high blood pressure. Hypertension at a young age can lead to greater health risks as an adult like heart disease and stroke.