What Is Heart Disease Starts In Childhood?
You might think heart disease is a problem for adults and not for your young children. However, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says, obesity affects 1 in 5 children. Diet and exercise habits that began in childhood can start a heart-healthy life. Or heart damage for life.
Some of the preventable causes of heart disease in adults that begin in childhood are:
- Unhealthy diet
- A buildup of plaque (or fat deposits) in the arteries
- Exposure to cigarette smoke
- Unhealthy changes in cholesterol levels
- High blood pressure
- Lack of physical exercise (sedentary lifestyle)
Despite the fact that the risk of heart disease can run in families, eating a healthy diet can help every child reduce their risk of developing heart disease. In the event that coronary illness runs in your family, converse with your youngster’s medical care supplier about whether their cholesterol and circulatory strain ought to be estimated normally, notwithstanding weight checking.
What can I do to prevent heart disease in my child?
There are many ways to help your child develop healthy lifestyle habits that reduce the risk of heart disease. To start, get regular medical care for your child. This means having at least a yearly physical examination. Regular medical checkups are the best way to detect and treat risks of heart disease that generally do not show symptoms, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol.
You also need to be smart about food. You can greatly reduce your child’s risk of developing heart disease by providing foods low in fat, sugar, and salt instead of processed foods, such as sausages, potato chips, and biscuits. Snack time is a good place to start. Offer baby-friendly foods, such as baby carrots, apples, or grape slices. Offer baby-sized portions of other healthy foods, such as low-fat yogurt, raisins, and peanuts. Look for baby-friendly breakfast cereals made with whole grains and low in sugar.
Set limits on less mobile entertainment. Computer, television, and video game time should not exceed one to two hours per day. Encourage exercise instead and find ways to make it enjoyable. Children five years and over should get at least 30 minutes of exercise each day. Babies may not like the idea of exercise, but they generally want to play. Encourage active play that matches your child’s interests and abilities. For example, if your child loves video games, consider moving games, which combine video games with physical activity. Better yet, involve the whole family! Join a family-friendly gym, or take a daily walk or bike ride together.
Talk to your children about healthy options and set an example. Children are more likely to develop healthy lifestyle habits if their parents teach them healthy behaviors and practice what they preach.
Healthy food, healthy hearts
A balanced diet is important for children and teenagers, not only to prevent heart disease but also to encourage healthy growth and development. A diet that prevents heart disease has three important parts. The first is to keep your daily caloric intake at the right level. Eating too many calories can cause weight gain and affect the heart, the second being fat reduction. The USDA recommends that children limit the amount of fat – especially saturated fat – that they eat. The third is a diet rich in fruits and vegetables. A good rule of thumb is to eat fruits and vegetables with a variety of colors to get a comprehensive source of nutrients.
Here are guidelines for creating a heart-healthy diet in childhood:
- Breastfeed for as long as possible. Aim to spend an entire year, even when serving solid foods.
- Feed your baby mostly fruits and vegetables, along with whole grains, lean protein, and low-fat dairy products. Cut back on red meat and choose leaner cuts if you decide to eat red meat.
- Watch portion sizes. The recommended daily amounts of healthy foods for children are:
- 2 ounces of lean protein (fish and poultry) per day for children ages 2 to 3 years, 3 ounces to 4 ounces for children 4 to 8 years old, and 5 ounces to 6 ounces for children ages 9 to 18
- 2 cups of low-fat dairy products for children under the age of eight, and 3 cups for children ages 9 to 18
- 5 cups of fruit
- 5 cups of vegetables
- 6 ounces of whole grains
- Don’t eat junk food often. If you eat out, make healthy choices (like a grilled chicken sandwich instead of cheese bacon) and keep portion sizes reasonable.
- Don’t give your children sugary drinks. Instead, serve water and low-fat milk.
- Cut sweets and sweets to a minimum and consider using fresh fruit as an alternative to sweets.
- Choose whole grains like brown rice over refined grains like white rice for more nutrients and fiber.
- Don’t ask children to finish everything on their plate. Allow the kids to tell you when they feel full.
Healthy lifestyle, healthy heart
Many of the daily choices children and teens make affect their risk of developing heart disease. Here are some options you can encourage your children and teens to make to help protect their hearts:
- Do about 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous physical activity most days of the week in childhood. This can be divided throughout the day into two or more periods of activity.
- Since many kids trade activity in exchange for sitting in front of the TV or computer, keep screen time less than two hours a day.
- Do not expose your children to cigarette smoke. Ban smoking in your home and car. Do not take your children to places where people smoke cigarettes. If you smoke, quitting smoking can help you and your children.
- Remember that you are the most important role model for your children. Your children and teens will learn their best heart-healthy options by watching you.