A study presented this month (May 2009) at the annual Pediatric Academic Society meeting found that black children with high blood pressure were more likely to develop heart problems than other racial groups. This study evaluated 139 children (under age 21) with high blood pressure, 60% of the black kids had an enlarged heart and 37% of the other children had enlarged hearts. High blood pressure is more frequently found in adults but can occur in children especially if they are overweight and do not exercise. High blood pressure that is not controlled can lead to permanent heart damage.
Children need to be screened for high blood pressure (especially black children). When high blood pressure is identified lifestyle changes need to be encouraged in order to prevent early permanent heart damage. Weight loss, regular exercise and sodium restriction (less than 2,000 mg of sodium per day) can help children control their blood pressure.
Usually high cholesterol is considered an adult problem, most kids may not even know what cholesterol is…
With the increase in childhood obesity and diabetes, cholesterol screening is now being recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics in children between the ages of 2 and 10. Children at higher risk for cholesterol problems include: kids who are overweight/obese, have diabetes, have high blood pressure and/or have a family history of early heart disease. LDL (which is the “lousy” or bad) cholesterol levels for children should be 130 mg/dl or lower.
If your childs cholesterol level is elevated healthy lifestyle changes should be implemented. Children need at least 60 minutes of exercise every day, limit portion sizes, weight loss strategies (if overweight) and follow a low fat/low sodium diet. Cholesterol medications should be considered if a child has a LDL cholesterol level above 160 mg/dl plus 2 risk factors for heart disease, or if your child’s LDL cholesterol is above 190 mg/dl even if no other risk factors are present.
Elevated cholesterol levels in children are predictive of future heart problems – so it’s important to start early and encourage your children to develop heart healthy habits!
Visit www.heart-strong.com for more heart healthy tips (Kids section called “Little Hearts”)
Having trouble getting your children to eat their vegetables? Here’s a couple of suggestions to improve your kids veggie intake…
A study just published in the journal Preventive Medicine found that children eat more fruits and vegetables when they see their parents eating fruits and vegetables. When parents ate high fat foods and soft drinks, children followed these unhealthy eating patterns. This research was part of the High 5 for Kids program – educational nutrition program focusing on ways to get children to eat more fruit and vegetables. There was a direct correlation observed – children’s fruit and vegetable intake increased as their parent’s intake increased. Be a healthy fruit and veggie mentor!
Cool vegetable names can help increase children’s vegetable intake. Cornell University studied 186 pre-schoolers. When catchy names (like “x-ray carrots” rather than just “carrots”) were used to make vegetables sound more exciting the children ate more vegetables. This study which was presented at the recent School Nutrition Association meeting found that children continue to eat more vegetables even when the fun labels were no longer used. This initial catchy vegetable name influenced children’s future decision making.
For more heart healthy info for kids visit http://heart-strong.com/littlehearts.html