Heart disease may begin in childhood

By naturopath Margaret Jasinska

Did you know that some heart scans performed on obese children have revealed signs of heart disease? This is according to research presented at the American Heart Association’s Scientific Sessions.

Obese children, some as young as 8 years old were found to have 27 percent more muscle mass in the left ventricle of their heart and also 12 percent thicker heart muscles than normal weight children. Both of these signs are usually indicators of heart disease. 40 percent of the obese children were classified as high risk for significant heart problems because they had thickened muscle in the heart and also their heart had reduced pumping ability. None of the obese children in the study who were found to have heart problems experienced any symptoms.

This is worrying because no one would know these children are at significantly increased risk of serious heart problems as adults and a potentially shortened lifespan. According to Linyuan Jing, Ph.D., lead author of the study and researcher at Geisinger Health System in Danville, Pennsylvania, “Ultimately, we hope that the effects we see in the hearts of these children are reversible; however, it is possible that there could be permanent damage. This should be further motivation for parents to help children lead a healthy lifestyle.”

Obesity in childhood is a serious matter. It doesn’t just affect the heart; these children often have high blood pressure, high blood fats such as cholesterol and triglycerides, and a fatty liver. Some are even developing type 2 diabetes before adolescence. The weight gained during childhood is extremely difficult to lose because puberty often triggers further weight gain, and lifestyle factors in early adulthood while working or studying also often promote weight gain.

The best way to encourage healthy eating in your children is to set a good example yourself. Naturally kids will eat some junk food while socializing, but if the majority of their diet is comprised of natural home prepared meals, they have a much better chance of a long, healthy and happy life.

Often we know which foods we should be eating, but powerful cravings override good intentions. Nature Sweet sugar substitute is an all natural sugar alternative that can be used in cooking and baking.

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