Weekly Wellness: Because I heart your kiddos' hearts

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COLUMBIA - Ohhhhh Valentine’s Day…. You’ll see those little red and pink hearts decorating all the stores and lots of packaging these days. Candy and cookies and all the sugary good stuff. Kids just love eating those little red and pink treats, don’t they? Unfortunately, it’s not helping their actual hearts much…

The American Heart Association has determined that most children aged 2 – 19 years are failing to meet the current standards for cardiovascular health. Scary, right? The AHA determined seven (7) key characteristics that contribute to optimal cardiovascular health and then analyzed available corresponding research. Here’s what they found:

1. Smoking Status. One-third of individuals age 12-19 smoked or had smoked a cigarette in the last 30 days.

2. Body Mass Index (BMI). Among 2-5 year olds, 9%-11% had poor BMI. Among 12-19 year olds, that rate increased to 19%-27%.

3. Activity Levels. Only half of boys and one-third of girls age 6-11 years actually achieved the recommended 60 minutes of activity each day. Among those age 16-19 years, only 5% of girls and 10% of boys met that recommendation.

4. Energy Intake. Data shows that 91% of adolescents scored poorly on diet measures. They self-reported that their diets consisted mostly of grain-based desserts and sugary drinks.

5, 6 & 7. Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar & Cholesterol. Most of the adolescents scored well on these measures.

The lead researcher on the project, Julia Steinberger, MD, MS, director of pediatric cardiology at the University of Minnesota, blamed poor nutrition choices as the primary factor for poor heart health in kids. She stated that children are eating high-calorie, low-nutrition foods and not eating enough fruits, vegetables, whole-grains, fish and other foods associated with good heart health and healthy body weight.

It’s so much better for your kids to establish healthy eating and lifestyle habits now before it has the chance to catch up with them later in life. (And setting a good example is a great start!)

(Source: IDEA Fitness Journal, November-December 2016)

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