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Heart Smart Living
Heart Smart Living

Cardiologist, author, and heart health expert Dr. Sarah Samaan offers advice on how to live a heart smart life.

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Overweight Kids and Heart Disease

National study shows high prevalence of risk factor for overweight kids and heart disease

Heart disease is commonly considered a disease of middle and older age, but a new study finds that an alarming number of kids now carry dangerous risk factors that may impact their health as they enter young adulthood. Although hypertension, diabetes, and high cholesterol are on the rise in all weight categories, overweight and obese kids are at especially high risk.

Currently one in three American kids ages 12 through 19 are overweight or obese, a number that has more than tripled in recent decades thanks in a large part to fast food, processed food, sodas, and a sedentary lifestyle. According to a new study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, one in three obese children has high cholesterol, one in four has, or is at high risk for, hypertension, and nearly one in four is either diabetic or pre-diabetic.  Even children of normal weight are far more likely to be at risk for diabetes than they were 10 years ago.

It is never too early to start caring for our hearts. If you’re a parent, you love your children and want only the best for them, simply talking about health is not enough. Atherosclerosis, or cholesterol buildup, begins in childhood, and once it has taken hold, it can be very hard to reverse. Fortunately for most kids, prevention is really quite simple. Limit fast food, snack foods, and sodas. Make healthier choices that are just as easy and inexpensive, such as peanut butter on whole wheat bread, bananas, and apples. Exercise as a family, and keep “screen time,” including computer games and TV, to two hours or less each day. Put your love into action, and give your child the best start in life possible.

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Tags: Risk Factors for Heart Disease

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About the Author


Dr. Samaan is an acclaimed cardiologist, writer, and heart health educator.