Prevention of Heart Disease Starts in Childhood
A child born today is 500 times more likely to die of acquired atherosclerosis (the formation of plaque on artery walls) than of congenital heart disease, according to Michele Mietus-Snyder, M.D., a preventive pediatric cardiologist and assistant adjunct professor at the University of California-San Francisco. "It is very important for kids to grow up with the understanding that they are in large measure responsible for their health," she says.
Healthy food, healthy hearts
The risk factors
A guide to healthy, happy children
- Provide at least 30 minutes of enjoyable, moderate-intensity activities every day.
- Provide a total of at least 60 minutes of vigorous physical activities most days a week to maintain heart and lung fitness.
- As an alternative to 60 minutes of activity, provide two 30-minute or three 20-minute periods of activity appropriate for the age, gender and development of your child.
- Set strict limits for TV watching, computer use and play with handheld computer games.
- Don't use food as a reward for your children's accomplishments; instead, plan a physical activity that they will enjoy.
- During the summer, sign your children up for a sports camp or other camp that focuses on physical activity as a way to keep your kids moving during the summer.
The AHA also recommends the following dietary guidelines for children ages 2 and over:
- Total fat should be no more than 30 percent of total daily calories.
- Saturated fat should be no more than 10 percent of total daily calories.
- Dietary cholesterol should be less than 300 mg per day.
- Use the "age + 5" guideline for calculating the appropriate amount of fiber. Using the formula, a 7-year-old should eat 12 grams of fiber (7 + 5=12). When their daily calorie intake reaches 1,500 or more, increase fiber to 25 grams.
- Children should also eat at least five servings of fruits and vegetables each day, and other foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol.
09-01-06 Montreal Children's Hospital - SW