Lack of exercise and diets high in sugar are to blame for an alarming levels of poor cardiovascular health in U.S. children.
The American Heart Association (AHA) has brought up concerns about the health of children’s hearts in the U.S. and fears lack of activity and unhealthy food choices could be having a detrimental effect at an early age.
The shocking report published this week shows that only 1 percent of children in America meet the standard of cardiovascular health put forward by the AHA.
Data was taken from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey by Julia Steinberger and colleagues at the AHA. The survey was conducted between 2007 to 2008 and the main takeaway from the results showed that poor diet was the biggest factor in poor heart health in children. Many of the children involved in the survey between the ages of 2 and 19 years, had a high consumption of sugar in their daily diets mainly from simple carbohydrates, sugar drinks and sugary desserts.
The next biggest factor was lack of exercise and general physical movement. Kids are thought to lead much more sedentary lifestyles than in previous years possibly due to video games, TV and the internet. In children aged 6 to 11, only half of boys took part in physical activity on a daily basis while it was just over a third of girls.
“Engaging in these ideal health behaviors early in life can have a tremendous benefit on maintaining ideal health throughout the lifespan,” commented Steinberger in a statement. “Instead of taking a wait-and-see approach by treating disease later in adulthood, we should help children maintain the standards of ideal cardiovascular health that most children are born with.”
Obesity has been an epidemic in the U.S. for a number of years and now it seems it has spread to the youth with 10 percent of children between 2 and 5 years old involved in the survey had a high BMI and was considered to be obese.
Steinberger and her team say the results illustrate the importance of tackling children’s cardiovascular health head on knowing what is causing poor health. If dealt with early, it can eliminate poor health in later life.
“We see a tremendous opportunity to strive towards true cardiovascular health if we think of the factors that maintain health early in life.”
Details of the report were published in the journal Circulation.