Monday, July 14, 2008

Healthy Hearted Kids

The American Academy of Pediatrics is hoping to prevent adult heart disease by recommending wider cholesterol screening for children. They’re also urging pediatricians to consider prescribing cholesterol-lowering drugs for children as young as eight years old.

Some children – about one in 500 – have genetic cholesterol disorders. But millions kids face an unhealthy future because they eat too much of the wrong foods and don’t get enough exercise.

A few weeks ago, I walked into the locker room at my local YMCA. A mother and her two toddler daughters were getting ready to swim. A third daughter, who appeared to be in her early teens, was sitting cross-legged in her jeans on a bench. They were all dipping into a giant-sized bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos, one handful after another. I could almost hear their arteries clogging. All four were more than a little overweight.

I give the mom credit for taking her kids to the pool. But the Doritos? Why do so many parents indulge their kids’ appetites for junk food?

My friend, Maria, says sometimes her kids’ demands for cookies or candy wear her down, and she gives in. Other times, she’s so busy that it’s just easier to grab an unhealthy but prepackaged snack. “I see the segments on the Today Show that tell you to make little snack bags with raisins and nuts. Who’s got the time for that?! “

It’s a case of pay now or pay later. Parents have to nail nutrition 101 and help their kids develop and manage healthy habits. This means replacing the giant-sized bags of Doritos with nutritious snacks, and trading some of the time in front of the computer and TV for daily physical activity.

Make this a priority or you could be condemning your kids to a lifetime of illness and maybe even a drug that prevents heart attacks or strokes. It’s your choice.

Resources
Healthy Weight: True Stories (in development)
Words Can Work: When Talking About Healthy Weight (in development)


Related columns for young people

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