Why should you be worried about your child and cardiovascular disease (CVD)?

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Doesn’t make sense right? Old people have heart attacks not children. However obesity and overweight are strongly linked to CVD, by nearly 60 percent if they are overweight. So by preventing too much weight gain in children you can reduce their heart disease risk factors and ultimately heart disease as they become adults.

In 2009, pediatricians wrote children in the U.S. at least 2.8 million prescriptions for drugs to lower cholesterol; nearly 2.3 million of them were for statins. About one in five children and adolescents 12 to 19 years have at least one lipid abnormality, including high cholesterol, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Do you now that The AAP recommends assessing the benefits and risks of statin use in children whose cholesterol levels are not reduced through diet changes and physical activity.

Keeping you child off of statins means helping them maintain their healthiest weight. Here are some tips to keep in mind to help prevent obesity and CVD in children:

Prepare breakfast daily

Offer children simple breakfasts such as oatmeal, low-sugar cereals, whole wheat toast and fruit. Encourage ‘no thank you’ bites Offer children each new healthy food ten to fifteen times before giving up to encourage the development of children’s own taste preferences.

Drive by the Drive-Thru

Prepare meals together as a family. Limit sweetened beverages and fast food. Switch to 2%, 1% or fat-free milk for children two years old and older In 2008 the American Academy of Pediatrics changed its milk consumption recommendations in response to the US childhood obesity epidemic. Here is a quick summary: Do not drink cow’s milk before one year. After one year and until two years of age drink whole milk. After two years of age drink fat-free or low-fat milk.

Enjoy simple activities together as a family

Get outside often with your children to play catch, jump rope, play tag, hide and seek or take a walk around the block after supper. Focus on all members of the family to encourage healthier eating, increasing physical activity and reducing screen time. Don’t single out one child for change.