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Study Reports Unhealthy Children Will Increase the Future Rates of Heart Disease

Update Date: Apr 01, 2013 12:14 PM EDT
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Obesity is a recurring complication that affects a high percentage of children within the United States with government agencies and politicians attempting to find effective ways of dealing with this issue. A recent study revealed even more pressing numbers regarding childhood obesity. The study, using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys that were administered from 2005 to 2010, revealed that the percentage of unhealthy children and teenagers would significantly increase the rates for heart disease and complications in the future.

The study, headed by epidemiologist Christina Shay of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, analyzed the data of 4,673 participants from the ages of 12 to 19-years-old. The children were asked questions regarding their eating habits and exercise routines. They were contacted via phone once every two years and were asked to give blood samples to measure blood pressure, weight and height. The sample size is demographically representative of 33.2 million children.

The researchers concluded that over 80 percent of the adolescents had poor diets, which was measured by the consumption of fast foods, sugars, processed foods, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Using the guidelines from the American Heart Association (AHA), which include physically activity, blood pressure, cholesterol, smoking habits, weight, diet, and blood glucose levels, the researchers were able to list the children's risk for heart disease. They found that 45 percent of boys and 50 percent of girls had at least five of the seven guidelines fulfilled. However, less than 1 percent of the sample group actually had an ideal diet. The researchers also noted that only 44 percent of girls and 67 percent of boys had over an hour of physical activity daily.

"It wasn't surprising that adolescents have terrible levels of physical activity and a poor diet. But even at this age, we are already seeing unfavorable levels of elevated cholesterol, higher levels of impaired glucose tolerance and Type 2 diabetes," Shay stated. "If you take this to the logical conclusion, fro the path these kids are on if they continue with these trends, then they are likely to have dramatically higher rates of cardiovascular disease than the current adult generation."

Based from these numbers, the researchers estimated that roughly 20 percent of boys and 17 percent of girls have body mass indexes (BMI) that were considered to be unhealthy. These numbers reveal that children and teenagers are generally still very unhealthy. Their lifestyle habits can contribute to poor overall health in the future, leading to more cases of heart complications and diseases down the line. Although the study did not take into account medication and treatment options used to control these health complications, children and adolescents need to change their lifestyle habits and make healthier decisions.

The study was published in Circulation.

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