National Hypertension Association

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The National Hypertension Association (NHA) was founded in 1977 to combat high blood pressure in the United States through research, education, detection, and prevention.

Summary of Activities

NHA research has focused mainly on a tumor called Pheochromocytoma, which causes hypertension and also on the mechanism of salt-induced hypertension. NHA has published extensively on these two topics, including two books on Pheochromocytoma.

VITAL (Values Initiative Teaching About Lifestyle)

In 2002, in an effort to combat childhood obesity and high blood pressure, the National Hypertension Association (NHA) developed a prevention/intervention program that teaches healthy nutrition choices and appropriate physical activities to young schoolchildren (ages 4-8). The program is called VITAL (Values Initiative Teaching About Lifestyle).

The program is implemented in kindergarten, 1st and 2nd grades and provides each class with a Teacher Guide containing the 8-lesson curriculum, a DVD (which illustrates the program in action), puzzles, exercise equipment, reading materials, and play foods. The program consists of 8 lesson plans about healthy eating and physical activities that can be taught by grade school teachers or physical education teachers. The curriculum emphasizes healthy food choices, daily physical exercises, and parental involvement instead of passive lecture-based methodologies. It is designed to influence young schoolchildren at an age when they are most receptive and before unhealthy lifestyle habits have become irreparably ingrained.

The VITAL program was developed in consultation with leading child educators and nutritionists. Each child receives a pedometer and a copy of "The Berenstain Bears and Too Much Junk Food" to use as part of the 8-lesson curriculum and to later take home for the parents to read with the child to reinforce the message. All the material used in the VITAL program are supplied free of charge by NHA.

VITAL Principles

1. Start Early: Instill healthy lifestyle values in children (pre-school age) before unhealthy habits have been ingrained.
2. Be Interesting to Children: Emphasize participation over lecturing and integrate messages into materials and fun activities that relate to VITAL's message of living an active and healthy lifestyle.
3. Reinforcement: Participation by children and parents in games and reading activities to provide daily practice in making healthy decisions, and with repetition to instill an understanding of the nature and impact of lifestyle choices.
4. Funding: The initial cost for developing the teaching materials and launching the pilot program has been underwritten by grants from The Weezie Foundation, The Charles Edison Fund and The Bodman Foundation.


As of 2008, the VITAL Program had been established in elementary schools in 11 different states and in Washington, D.C. with a present-day enrollment of over 30,000 students.

Positive preliminary results appear to indicate that VITAL has an impact on preventing excess weight gain and obesity. NHA hopes to further expand the VITAL program throughout the nation.


William Manger, MD, PhD, Chairman, National Hypertension Association

External Links

Website: National Hypertension Association

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