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Kids' Health Kids' Health

Are our kids headed for adult heart disease?

Posted by on May. 7, 2012 at 5:32 AM
  • 8 Replies

Today's Kids May Be Destined for Adult Heart Disease

Solution lies in instilling healthy habits, not adding medication, experts say.

By Serena Gordon
HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, May 4 (HealthDay News) -- No longer an adults-only issue, heart health has become increasingly problematic for American children.

An array of factors has been deemed key to a healthy heart by the American Heart Association, including maintaining a healthy weight, being physically active on a regular basis, eating a healthy diet, not smoking and keeping blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose levels normal.

But half of U.S. kids meet just four or fewer of these health criteria, according to a report, Heart Disease and Stroke Statistics -- 2012 Update, which was published in Circulation.

[Read: Dark Chocolate May Lower Risk of Heart Disease.]

And, among those in high school, 30 percent of girls and 17 percent of boys do not get the recommended 60 minutes a day of physical activity, the report noted.

In addition, a report from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that one in five children had abnormal cholesterol levels, which prompted the American Academy of Pediatrics to issue new guidelines recommending that all children 9 to 11 years old be screened for high cholesterol levels.

"A number of things are happening to impact children's heart health," said Dr. Stephen R. Daniels, professor and chairman of the pediatrics department at the University of Colorado School of Medicine in Aurora and a spokesman for the American Heart Association. "One is the increase in prevalence and severity of obesity."

"Obesity drives a lot of risks in adults, and that seems to be true for children, too," he added. "The concern is that we may now have a generation of children that are destined for heart disease as adults."

More than one-third of America's children are currently overweight or obese, according to the CDC. Nearly 20 percent are obese.

[Read: Glucose Challenge in Pregnancy Could Predict Heart Disease.]

Children who are overweight or obese are far more likely to have high blood pressure than their normal-weight peers. They're also more likely to have high cholesterol levels, according to the CDC.

Dr. Vivek Allada, clinical director of pediatric cardiology at the Children's Hospital of Pittsburgh, explained that pediatric cardiology has been changing over the years. In the past, he said, adult-type heart disease was much rarer and congenital heart disease was more the norm for pediatric patients.

"In some sense, congenital heart disease is fixing plumbing, but acquired heart disease requires fixing the lifestyle," Allada said. "We're very good at fixing leaks or unclogging blocks, but fixing the lifestyle requires a multi-player team approach that involves the physician, the patient, the family and the school."

Though children, like adults, can take medication to bring down their cholesterol levels, health experts agree that it's more important to instill healthy lifestyle habits in children.

"You can't replace heart-healthy living with a pill," Allada pointed out. "This is a marathon, not a sprint, and you need your cholesterol down for your life. We want you to build good habits. You have to focus on diet and exercise. It's also important to eliminate soda and simple sugars, not to smoke, and to watch your salt intake. There are multiple factors we have to take into account."

Allada and Daniels agreed that heart-healthy living has to be a family affair.

"Parents need to find a way to make the healthiest choice the easiest choice," Daniels said. "We didn't all decide as a population to start having unhealthy lifestyles simultaneously; it's an issue of convenience. We need to figure out how to work with or eliminate the unintended consequences of what we do every day."

In the home, he said, that means parents have to pay attention to diet and activity levels. "Parents really are in charge of the home environment and have a tremendous opportunity to build a healthy environment at home," Daniels explained. "Allow children to make choices among healthy options. It promotes a kind of self-efficacy and equips children to do better."

As for physical activity, he said to make sure it's something the whole family enjoys.

"Be active, but make it fun and enjoy it," he advised. "Figure out what the kids like to do."

The American Heart Association has more on helping kids develop healthy habits.

A companion article has details on a 12-year-old girl's fight against heart trouble.

by on May. 7, 2012 at 5:32 AM
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Replies (1-8):
new_mom808
by Andrea on May. 7, 2012 at 8:37 AM

 You know, I was just reading something the other day about a study that was done that links high cholesterol to sugar intake. The amount of cholesterol in the diet had absolutely zero bearing on cholesterol in the blood. They were hypothesising that the sugar causes damage to the body and the body creates the cholesterol to repair the damage. I'll have to see if I can find it again.

TigerofMu
by Sonja on May. 7, 2012 at 12:43 PM

 Oh dear

TonyaLea
by on May. 7, 2012 at 1:55 PM


Quoting new_mom808:

 You know, I was just reading something the other day about a study that was done that links high cholesterol to sugar intake. The amount of cholesterol in the diet had absolutely zero bearing on cholesterol in the blood. They were hypothesising that the sugar causes damage to the body and the body creates the cholesterol to repair the damage. I'll have to see if I can find it again.

Oh wow, that is a really interesting, I would love to read it if you find it.  

TonyaLea
by on May. 7, 2012 at 1:57 PM

I sure hope DD doesn't, we are doing our best to teach her healthy eating habits now and hope she maintains a healthy diet as she grows.  She also gets plenty of physical activity, I would bet it is almost impossible for a healthy 3 year old to NOT get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, LOL.  

new_mom808
by Andrea on May. 7, 2012 at 7:14 PM

 

Quoting TonyaLea:


Quoting new_mom808:

 You know, I was just reading something the other day about a study that was done that links high cholesterol to sugar intake. The amount of cholesterol in the diet had absolutely zero bearing on cholesterol in the blood. They were hypothesising that the sugar causes damage to the body and the body creates the cholesterol to repair the damage. I'll have to see if I can find it again.

Oh wow, that is a really interesting, I would love to read it if you find it.  

 Here you go. It's sort of long. So I'll also post some excerpts.
http://www.hepatitis.org.uk/s-crina/cholesterol.htm

Far from being some noxious, alien invader of our bodies, cholesterol is a solid, waxy substance produced by all animals as part of their normal metabolism.

Most people can absorb no more than 300-500 mg pr day of cholesterol directly from foods. Radioactive tracer studies, which use special radioactive food molecules to trace their fate in the body, have shown that 60-70% of all blood cholesterol comes from production by the liver, not from pre-formed cholesterol in the foods. In fact, a recent article in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition by D.M.Hegsted reviewed the scientific evidence concerning the connection between dietary cholesterol and blood cholesterol levels.

Cholesterol is important to every cell of your body. It provides needed rigidity to all cell membranes. Every cell in your body is covered by a membrane made largely of cholesterol, fat and protein. Membranes are porous structures, not solid walls, letting nutrients and hormones in, while keeping wastes and toxins out. Without adequate cholesterol, cell membranes become too fluid, and not rigid enough. If your cell membranes suddenly became totally devoid of cholesterol, your cells would explode from their internal water pressure like over-filled water balloons. Brain cells are particularly rich in cholesterol, the brain being about 7% cholesterol by dry weight.

One of cholesterol's most important functions is to serve as the basic raw material from which your body makes many major steroid hormones, including testosterone, estrogen, progesterone, cortisone and aldosterone. Without these first three hormones you would have no sex life; without cortisone your body could not cope with stress; and without aldosterone your body could not properly balance your sodium and water levels.

However, it is important to note that LDL cholesterol tends to stick primarily to damaged artery linings. Some of the many factors which have been shown to contribute to this artery-lining damage include the following:

     1) Inadequate vitamin C intake- 
     2) Inadequate vitamin E intake-
     3) Inadequate vitamin B6 intake, 
     4) Inadequate cellular production or dietary intake of gamma linolenic acid (G.A.). 
    5) Excessive intake of various pollutants, including cigarette smoke; alcohol; sugar; hydrogenated, heat damaged fats; overcooked protein; and auto/diesel exhaust. It is important to note that the same prostagladins which play such a vital role in artery protection also are responsible for pain perception. Consequently, as you take more pain killers such as aspirin and ibuprofen, you contribute to the damaging process.

Dr. Sheldon Reiser of the USDA has published research in the 1980's demonstrating that dietary sugar plays a major role in blood cholesterol levels. Reiser has found that a high dietary sugar intake raises blood triglyseride (blood fat) and LDL ("bad") levels, while lowering HDL ("good") levels. Reiser's work indicates that it is the fructose (fruit sugars) component of ordinary white sugar which so powerfully elevates blood cholesterol (white sugars, called sucrose, is a combination of one glucose and one fructose molecule). Considering the popularity of fructose as a "natural" sweetener in many carbo-lading, energy, diet and soft drinks and powders lately, Dr.Reiser's work takes on an added significance. The benefits claimed for fructose-sweetened foods and beverages--that they have a low "glycemic index" and thus disturb blood sugar levels less than white sugar--may be more than offset by fructose's blood cholesterol raising power. Dr. Reiser's work makes it clear that the worst combination for creating elevated blood cholesterol, even on a low cholesterol diet, is foods rich in both fat and sugar. Considering America's mania for sugar and fat rich desserts and snacks, America's high national average blood cholesterol levels may be due as much to this dietary imbalance, as to our high national intake of meat and dairy foods. It is relevant to note here that America's per capita consumption of meat, eggs, butter and cream has dropped significantly from 1900 to the present, while America's per capita sugar consumption has risen from a very modest 5 pounds per year in 1800 to about 190 pounds per year in the 1990's!

I also found this very interesting and easy to understand.

http://www.cholesterol-and-health.com/

PrincessZ20
by on May. 8, 2012 at 10:55 AM

That's so sad.  We're doing our best to make sure our kids learn healthy habits now; hopefully they continue practicing them throughout their lives.

PrincessZ20
by on May. 8, 2012 at 10:56 AM


Quoting TonyaLea:

I sure hope DD doesn't, we are doing our best to teach her healthy eating habits now and hope she maintains a healthy diet as she grows.  She also gets plenty of physical activity, I would bet it is almost impossible for a healthy 3 year old to NOT get 60 minutes of physical activity a day, LOL.  

Lol!  Very good point :)


GraceHudson
by on May. 8, 2012 at 10:58 AM
bump


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