Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.See all posts »
Kids Have a Heart, Too: Best Practices for a Healthy Heart
My book, Best Practices for a Healthy Heart: How to Stop Heart Disease Before or After it Starts, was published in June by The Experiment publishing house, and is distributed by Workman. In the book, I describe seven important steps that will help you to achieve optimum heart health and provide you with powerful protection against stroke, dementia, and even cancer.
We’ve gone through Step One (Know Your Numbers), Step Two (Eat Well to Live Better), Step Three (Learn How to Take a Break without Checking Out), Step Four (Get a Move On), Step 5 (Use Your Common Sense), and Step Six (Know Your Options), and Step Seven (Be Hip to Your Hormones), which includes important information for men and women.
The last section of the book is devoted to the heart health of our children. Many people fail to connect the dots, believing that just as scraped knees can heal without a scar, the hearts of kids are equally invulnerable. The truth is that our very earliest years set the stage for young adulthood and even middle age.
- Since 1976, childhood obesity has tripled in the U.S. One in three kids is overweight, and one in six is medically obese.
- Kids whose diets are high in saturated fat and cholesterol tend to score lower on tests of mental capacity.
- Up to 40 percent of American kids show signs of the Metabolic Syndrome, a middle-aged condition linked to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
- Children of obese moms are more likely to become obese themselves. They are also at higher risk for birth defects and autism.
- The average American kid watches three to four hours of TV and spends two hours or more in front of the computer each day. Kids who watch this much TV tend to choose unhealthy snacks, are more apt to smoke, and often have difficulty concentrating in school.
Improving the health of our nation’s children is not complicated, but it does take commitment on the part of families and schools. Limiting fast foods, processed foods, and “screen time” (time in front of the TV or computer), and encouraging exercise and activity can go a long way to improving health and ensuring an optimal quality of life.
If you are a parent, don’t fool yourself. Promises, threats, and lectures will never be enough. It’s time to put your love into action.