The findings come from a report that looked at the risk factors teens have for cardiovascular disease. “Prevalence of Cardiovascular Disease Risk Factors Among U.S. Adolescents, 1999-2008” examined data from nearly 3,400 adolescents age 12 to 19 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
The authors, affiliated with The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) set out to examine why American teens have become more susceptible to cardiovascular disease — the leading cause of death among U.S. adults.
“We’re Losing The Battle Early”
From CBS news:
“What this is saying, unfortunately, is that we’re losing the battle early with many kids,” said Dr. Stephen Daniels, a University of Colorado School of Medicine expert who was not involved in the study.
Daniels said these results are not good, since people can keep their risk of heart disease very low if they reach age 45 or 50 at normal weight and with normal blood pressure, normal cholesterol and no diabetes.
For the study, researchers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention focused on 3,383 adolescents ages 12 through 19, who were part of an intensive National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) that involves interviewing, weighing, measuring and performing medical tests on people across the country.
Overall the study found that 50 percent of overweight youths and 60 percent of obese youths had at least one risk factor for future heart disease. But normal-weight kids weren’t in the clear – 37 percent had at least one risk factor and could face increased chances for heart trouble as adults, the study suggests.
21 Percent Of Teens At Risk
The study showed that the percentage of adolescents who were diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes rose dramatically, from 9 percent to 21 percent. Pre-diabetics have higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to count as diabetes.
“This study is just a first step to identify problems in youth. More work needs to be done to identify why this is happening and the advantages of using various test methods in this population,” said Ashleigh May, the CDC epidemiologist who was the study’s lead author.
Still, she saw the results as a call of action to parents and adolescents.
“I think parents have the opportunity to encourage their children to engage in healthy lifestyles,” May told The Washington Post. “On the broader community level, we can promote healthy environments that make making healthy choices easier for kids.”
Exercise And Diet Make A Healthy Lifestyle
Let’s be clear here: healthy lifestyles means focusing on eating healthy food and on exercising. Parents monitoring their children’s eating habits and avoiding the junk food is important, but getting children exercising is also important.
That’s why Prescriptions for Nature is an idea that is taking off around the country: doctors who think children and teens need more exercise may prescribe healthy hikes in the great outdoors.
More than 100 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Refuges are part of a national consortium of federal parks and the National Environmental Education Foundation now using this prescription tactic. The aim is to turn doctors, nurses, teachers and therapists into “nature champions” who steer children and their parents into the outdoors.
The prescription, an “Rx for healthy living,” prompts families to eat more fruits and vegetables, step away from the TV or video screen and go outside to breathe fresh air, awaken their senses, and shed some weight. Each prescription also comes with easy-to-follow maps to nearby refuges and parks where outdoor experiences are led by rangers and volunteers.
And parents, why not get outside with your kids and enjoy exercising together?
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