Reducing the Risk of Chronic Disease in Children
Most people think heart disease affects only middle age adults or the elderly. Children are usually thought of as having healthy hearts.
You may be surprised to learn that cardiovascular disease is the second leading cause of death in children ages 0-14.
Risk factors that contribute to coronary artery disease and other cardiovascular diseases often begin at an early age. Consider the following:
- 4.1 million children, ages 12 to 17 are already smokers, and more than 3,000 children under age 18 become regular, daily smokers every day
- Nearly half of the children ages 12 and up do not exercise on a daily basis,
- 10 to 15 percent of American children ages 6 to 17 are obese
- Compared to children of average weight, obese youth are more than twice as likely to have high cholesterol levels. They are more likely to have higher blood pressure and they are nearly 13 percent more likely to have high insulin levels, possibly leading to diabetes.
What Can You Do?
Parents should be especially sensitive to the risk factors for cardiovascular disease. HAP encourages parents to talk to their young children about healthy living habits at an early age. Share with them that keeping cholesterol low, getting regular exercise, not smoking and having a health diet can greatly reduce the risks of heart disease in adulthood. By doing so we all become partners in better health.