But once outside the womb, an all-out assault begins: American culture (and the rising tides of childhood obesity) is poised and ready to threaten that beautiful beating.
Maybe it’s the inescapable screens (TVs, iPads, DXs, cell phones, you name it). Parents’ fears of letting kids play outside, running loose through the neighborhood. Or, blame the cartoon mascots on sugary cereals, or our frenzied, fast-food culture.
The point? Raising heart-healthy kids in modern America is no easy feat.
Turning the Tide
While it might be more challenging than ever to bring up health-conscious kids, it’s a battle worth fighting, according to pediatric cardiologist Dr. Rae-Ellen Kavey. Taking time to teach kids to be proactive in choosing active lifestyles and wholesome, nutritious foods is one of the best investments you can make, Kavey explains, because it’s much easier to shape (or reshape) kids’ habits than it is to overhaul ingrained behaviors as an adult (once cardiovascular disease has likely already taken root).
In this week’s blog video, Dr. Kavey explores new pediatric heart health guidelines from the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute (NHLBI), which include some unprecedented recommendations (e.g., the panel called for cholesterol checks for kids between ages 9 and 11; for parents to “walk the talk,” modeling non-sedentary lifestyles; and for all kids over 2 to make the switch to non-fat milk).
To listen to all of Dr. Kavey’s insights, just play the clip below. (Parents: For a quick-reference chart explaining which cardiovascular risk-factors you and your child’s pediatrician should be discussing at various well-child visits, click here.)
Dr. Kavey, who served as coordinator for the NHLBI panel producing the new pediatric heart health guidelines, has sat on both the Obesity Task Force and its Pediatric Obesity Working Group, and currently sits on several American Heart Association committees, including the Committee on Atherosclerosis, Hypertension and Obesity. She divides her time between clinical pursuits, mainly in preventive cardiology and the Center’s exercise lab, and expanding the division’s clinical research program.
To learn more about the Children’s Heart Center at URMC’s Golisano Children’s Hospital, click here.