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Most American Kids Have Poor Heart Health

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The American Heart Association has released a statement reporting that majority of American children have poor heart health, leading to increasing concerns about nutrition, Tech Times reports.

According to the AHA, only 1% of children in the US meets their definition of ideal childhood cardiovascular health. The association’s recommendation is for children to eat a healthy diet, maintain proper body weight, get at least one hour of physical activity daily, avoid the use of tobacco products, keep a healthy blood pressure, cholesterol and blood sugar levels – all to sustain good cardiovascular health.

The biggest factor in less than ideal heart health is poor nutrition, with over 90% of Americans kids found to have unhealthy diets.

Information from the National Health and Nutritions Examination Survey between 2007 and 2008 recorded that 91% of children did not score well on proper dietary measures. Children between 2 and 19 years old were found to be consuming plenty of simple carbohydrates such as sugary desserts and artificially sweetened beverages, which accounts for most of the calories they consume.

The second factor driving poor cardiovascular health is a low level of physical activity. Data shows that many kids lead sedentary lifestyles. In kids between 6 to 11 years old, only half of the boys and little more than a third of the girls engaged in the recommended one hour of physical activity daily.

Rates are even lower among teenagers ages 16 to 19 years old, with only 10% of boys and 5% of girls completing an hour of physical activity every day.

Among children between 5 to 10 years old, 10% had BMI measurements that classified them as obese. In children between 12 and 19 years old, the rate of obesity rose between 19 to 27%. A third of children in this same age bracket had also tried smoking cigarettes.

Health experts say it is important to watch out for signs of poor heart health early in life, and do something to prevent these.

Julia Steinberger, co-author on the study from the University of Minnesota, says people should “strive toward true cardiovascular health,” because it is much more difficult to treat rather than prevent.

The study was published in the journal Circulation.

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