Status of Cardiovascular Health in US Children Up to 11 Years of Age: The National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys 2003-2010

Hongyan Ning, Darwin Raymond Labarthe, Christina M. Shay, Stephen R. Daniels, Lifang Hou, Linda Van Horn, Donald M Lloyd-Jones*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

50 Scopus citations


The American Heart Association recently defined cardiovascular health (CVH) to monitor it over time for all Americans. Nationally representative prevalence estimates for children under 12 years according to sex and race/ethnicity have not been reported. Methods and Results-The study sample comprised 8961 children aged 2 to 11 years from 2003 to 2010 National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys. National prevalence of ideal, intermediate, and poor CVH as defined by American Heart Association was estimated for each of 4 available metrics (body mass index [BMI], healthy diet score, total cholesterol, and blood pressure). No children had ideal levels for either zero or all 4 metrics. Ideal healthy diet score was least prevalent, ranging from 0 to 0.1%, whereas ideal blood pressure was most prevalent ranging from 88% to 93% across sex, race/ethnicity groups. Ideal BMI was less frequent at ages 6 to 11 years than at ages 2 to 5 years (67% versus 77%). Approximately 40% of children had intermediate or poor total cholesterol levels. The dietary intake of diet score components was associated with BMI, which was associated with blood pressure and total cholesterol. Conclusions-Ideal CVH status for BMI, total cholesterol, and blood pressure was prevalent in young children, whereas ideal diet was rare. Diet and BMI were important components to achieve ideal CVH metrics in children. Limited availability of data for all CVH metrics is a major obstacle for CVH assessment in the youngest age groups and represents an important missed opportunity for surveillance and secular trends analyses with aging.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)164-171
Number of pages8
JournalCirculation: Cardiovascular Quality and Outcomes
Issue number2
StatePublished - Mar 21 2015


  • Children
  • epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cardiology and Cardiovascular Medicine


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