Why So Many Children Are On The Road To Heart Disease
"Parents are the gatekeepers and the role models for their children's eating and exercise habits," says Marjorie Milici, M.D., pediatrician on the medical staff at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas.
"Chronic diseases, such as obesity, heart disease and cancer, which take decades to develop, have their roots in childhood, when exercise and eating behaviors are being learned," adds Dr. Milici.
Starting at a very young age, children should begin learning about proper nutrition and exercise. The American Heart Association (AHA) says that children age 2 and older should eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables daily, as well as a variety of other foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol, in order to promote cardiovascular health.
"It's up to parents to help their children control the factors that they can, such as diet and exercise," says Dr. Milici. "Children should get at least 30 minutes of exercise five days a week. Lack of exercise prevents the breakdown of bad cholesterol in our bodies. Combined with a high-fat diet, it can lead to health problems such as elevated cholesterol levels, heart disease and diabetes when children are older."
A Guide for Parents
Kids are getting too much of the bad stuff and not enough of the good:
-- sedentary time
-- busy time
-- calories found in lower-nutrient foods
-- sugary beverages
-- physical activity
-- rest or downtime (To increase their energy, children usually eat more when they're tired.)
-- fiber, vitamin C, calcium, iron
-- low-fat dairy products
For more information about Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, visit http://www.BaylorHealth.com.
Baylor Health Care System
2001 Bryan St., Ste. 2200
Dallas, TX 75201
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