Study: Children Have Double the Risk Factors of Cardiovascular Diseases Their Parents/Caregivers Have

By Denise Uychiat, Parent Herald March 03, 07:00 am

Are you aware of the saying, "Lead by example?" Well as parents, it is a very important phrase to remember. A recent study has confirmed that children follow whatever parents do, so if you eat unhealthy foods or live an unhealthy lifestyle, chances are your kids will too. These kinds of actions will be bad for the kids' heart.

The study involving 1,500 children between the ages 8 to 16 and 1,020 caregivers revealed that children copy their parents' lifestyle. According to US News, the study found that children take after their parents or those who care for them in terms of having unhealthy habits that could increase their chances of being obese, have elevated blood pressure, high blood sugar, as well as an increased level of cholesterol in the blood.

Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said that even if the major risk factor of heart disease is genetics, the study shows that some factors like lifestyle behaviors are often acquired during childhood. "Heart disease needs to be looked at as a true family issue," she said, "and intervention needs to take place within the behaviors of the home."

The study also found that when the primary care giver is overweight/ obese, there is a seven times more at risk of obesity for male children, while female children were four times most likely to suffer from obesity. It was also revealed that when the caregiver has at least one risk factor for any cardiovascular disease, the chances of having cardiovascular risk factors is doubled in the children they're caring for, reported.

"Cardiovascular disease—which is truly a lifestyle disease—is a problem that affects the family, as behavior is often emulated and passed down from caregiver to their children," Steinbaum added. Another expert named Pamela Koch who is the executive director of the Tisch Center for Food, Education, and Policy at Columbia University in New York City agreed that the study may prompt an increased number of nutrition education programs for families who are metabolically at risk.

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