A new analysis of federal data provides a pretty dismal picture of children’s heart health. It suggests that the current generation of teens could be at significantly higher risk of heart disease.
This study, conducted by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, focused on children between 12 and 19 years of age. It found that teens performed poorly overall on a set of criteria developed by the American Heart Association. These criteria are generally thought to measure individuals against a cardiovascular health ideal.
The American diet was a particular problem. Not one of the more than 5,400 children in the study met the standards for a healthy diet. These results cause continuing concerns about the long term impact of poor eating habits and childhood obesity. Some have even said that the current generation of teens may be the first American generation that has a life expectancy that is shorter than their parents. Yikes!
A “healthy diet” was defined in the study as one that includes at least 4 1/2 servings of fruits and vegetables each day, 3 whole grain servings per day, 2 or more servings of fish each week, less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium each day, and less than 36 ounces of sugary drinks each week. Only 20% of the study participants met even 2 or 3 of these recommendations, let alone all of them!
Healthy eating, including the reduction of sodium and sugary drinks, continues to be one of the most troubling areas for Americans. This needs to be addressed if we are to reverse alarming trends in heart health and extend our lifespan.
You can help by teaching your children about the importance of including fresh fruits and vegetables in their daily diet, along with whole grains. Remember, healthy choices we make each day can transform families for generations! What choices will you make today?
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