Study: Childrens’ Poor Eating Habits Can Lead To Heart Disease Later In Life
The evidence keeps piling up, with study after study further confirming what many heart health experts have long suspected: the eating habits of children, as early as infancy, can greatly impact one’s risk factor for heart disease later in life.
And with childhood obesity and poor cardiovascular health of U.S. children reaching epidemic proportions, the link between poor eating habits in early childhood and long-term heart problems has many public health officials sounding the alarm.
The good news is that one of the recent studies suggests that there is a way that doctors and parents can assess the health of a child’s arteries, and therefore their lifelong risk factor for a host of heart problems, by observing the triglycerides that reside in the cholesterol of all humans.
After conducting a routine cholesterol blood test on 900 children and young adults, researchers found that a higher ratio of triglycerides to HDL also known as “good cholesterol” was a key indicator that the young person would, or in some cases already had, inflexible, hardened and otherwise damaged arteries.
Stiff arteries force the heart to work harder, and while a major difference isn’t observed in most children, this extra strain on the heart takes its toll later on down the road. Doctors refer to this phenomenon as “accelerated aging” and studies have shown that the risk of heart attacks, stroke and heart disease related deaths are substantially increased.
Triglycerides are formed when there is imbalance between the number of calories being stored by the body, and those actually expended in energy production, and the main culprit leading to this condition in children is – unsurprisingly – high-sugar food and beverages, but also high carbohydrate foods like pasta and potatoes.
Not Too Late
While the poor diets of children is leading directly to these risk factors, the good news is that researchers believe that young people suffering from premature artery hardening can reverse the trend by mixing up their diet to reduce sugars and starches and incorporating more physical activity into their daily routines.
This particular study added further fuel to the growing concern that today’s young people are transitioning into adulthood already possessing bad habits, and bad bodies, that will doom them to a lifetime of health issues.
Because of these concerns, many family physicians are recommending that children undergo a cholesterol screening between the ages of 9 and 11. If some of the risk factors for heart disease are indicated during these early screenings, a plan of action can be formulated to alter the poor diet and activity habits that have already begun wreaking havoc on the young person’s arteries.
A cynic might observe that these studies really aren’t telling us anything we don’t already know; they merely deduce that kids who are eating poorly, ingesting too much sugar and high fat foods in their diet, are going to run into long term health problems as a result.
Nevertheless, its further evidence that the growing epidemic of obese and otherwise unhealthy children in the United States is bound to have devastating consequences if allowed to continue unchecked into future generations.
Sam Foster‘s natural rage intensifies when he thinks about an entire generation of children poisoning their hearts with soda and energy drinks. When he calms down, he sometimes finds a few hours to write for IowaHealth.org, specialists in heart and lung care.
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