You’re there to help your children with their homework, and you remind them to brush their teeth.
But have you helped them do something good for their hearts lately?
You may think that only grown-ups need to be concerned about having a healthy heart. But it’s never too early to start establishing a heart-healthy lifestyle for your children too.
“Because kids rarely get heart disease, people often don’t realize they can develop risk factors for heart attack, or even stroke, when they grow up,” says Scott Marrus, MD, cardiologist at Prairie Cardiovascular in Breese. “However, the gradual buildup of fat, cholesterol and other substances in the arteries can begin in childhood.”
“Adults are at higher risk for experiencing a heart attack or stroke when they develop risk factors such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol or high blood pressure as children,” says Jonathan Hoskins, MD, family medicine physician at Clinton County Rural Health in Breese. “Parents can help their kids avoid heart disease in adulthood by helping them make healthy choices now.”
Give these suggestions a try:
Serve up good eats. Saturated fats and trans fats can raise the risk of heart disease. When shopping for your family, choose foods that are lower in saturated fat—such as lean meat and low-fat milk, yogurt and cheese—and limit foods that have trans fats—such as cookies, cakes, crackers and frozen pizza.
Also aim to serve five fruits and veggies a day, and cut back on sweetened drinks. Make sure plenty of healthy food choices are available at home.
Invite your kids into the kitchen. Let your kids help you prepare healthy meals. It’s a great way to teach them about good food choices.
Encourage exercise. Kids who are 6 years and older need 60 minutes of daily activity. Make being active a family affair. Go on walks or bike rides; play sports together; or engage in fun, active games (hoops, anyone?) with your kids.
Get your children checkups. Along with assessing overall health, a doctor can check a child’s weight, blood pressure and cholesterol. Be sure all the adults in the family get their checkups too.
Dr. Hoskins is accepting new patients at Clinton County Rural Health, located at 9401 Holy Cross Lane, Breese, Illinois. For an appointment with Dr. Hoskins, visit 618-526-7271.
Dr. Marrus is accepting adult patients in Breese, Greenville and O’Fallon. For an appointment with Dr. Marrus, call 618-233-6044.
Sources: American Academy of Pediatrics; American Heart Association; UptoDate