Protect your child’s heart as schools resume

As schools resume, it behooves parents to stock up on foods for their lunch packs. While there are a variety of foods to pick from, most of which usually appeal to the child’s sweet tooth,  pediatric cardiologists suggest special attention should be taken as to what kiddies really eat as this can have a great impact on their heart.

Pediatric cardiologist at the United States of America’s Dell Children’s, Dr. Stuart Rowe, said, “Heart health in adults begins as good heart health in children.”

He stated that many of the cardiovascular risk factors that develop in childhood will follow into adulthood, and much of that is triggered by a child’s diet and activity level.

“We do see kids with elevated blood pressure, elevated insulin levels and glucose levels, so we know those kids are on their way to hypertension and developing diabetes and I consider it very unfortunate because these are things that can be changed,” he said.

The path to a heart healthy diet starts with somewhat of a Mediterranean diet. That includes fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean meats, and low fat or nonfat dairy products.

Poor quality food and lack of cardiovascular activity could add to the rising number of children that are obese.

“If you are obese, it means that you likely have higher blood sugar, higher cholesterol, higher triglycerides, higher blood pressure and so all the risk factors escalate if you are overweight,” says Dr. Rowe.

As kids grow older into adolescence, the obesity rate rises. So, Dr. Rowe said that’s why parents should be role models for heart healthy eating for their kids. Eat whole foods, exercise together, and definitely do things around the home that make it easy for the whole family to eat healthy items.

“There are things that can be done to try to encourage heart healthy eating habits, having the fruit cut up ahead of time and ready for the kids when they come home for snacks after school, having the fruit cut up in animal shapes and things like that that make it fun for the kids,” he said.

You can help your child develop healthy habits early in life that will bring lifelong benefits. As a parent, you can encourage your kids to evaluate their food choice and physical activity habits. Here are some tips and guidelines to get you started.

Be a good role model – You don’t have to be perfect all the time, but if kids see you trying to eat right and getting physically active, they’ll take notice of your efforts. You’ll send a message that good health is important to your family.

Keep things positive – Kid’s don’t like to hear what they can’t do, tell them what they can do instead. Keep it fun and positive. Everyone likes to be praised for a job well done. Celebrate successes and help children and teens develop a good self-image.

Get the whole family moving – Plan times for everyone to get moving together. Take walks, ride bikes, go swimming, garden or just play hide-and-seek outside. Everyone will benefit from the exercise and the time together.

  • Be realistic – Setting realistic goals and limits are key to adopting any new behaviour. Small steps and gradual changes can make a big difference in your health over time, so start small and build up.
  • Limit TV, video game and computer time – These habits lead to a sedentary lifestyle and excessive snacking, which increase risks for obesity and cardiovascular disease. Limit screen time to 2 hours per day.
  • Encourage physical activities that they’ll really enjoy – Every child is unique. Let your child experiment with different activities until they find something that they really love doing. They’ll stick with it longer if they love it.
  • Pick truly rewarding rewards – Don’t reward children with tv, video games, candy or snacks for a job well done. Find other ways to celebrate good behaviour.
  • Make dinnertime a family time – When everyone sits down together to eat, there’s less chance of children eating the wrong foods or snacking too much. Get your kids involved in cooking and planning meals. Everyone develops good eating habits together and the quality time with the family will be an added bonus.
  • Make a game of reading food labels – The whole family will learn what’s good for their health and be more conscious of what they eat. It’s a habit that helps change behaviour for a lifetime.
  • Stay involved – Be an advocate for healthier children. Insist on good food choices at school. Make sure your children’s healthcare providers are monitoring cardiovascular indicators like BMI, blood pressure and cholesterol. Make your voice heard.


Culled from

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