Majority Of US Teens Eating Their Way To Heart Disease

Poor diet and sedentary lifestyle among teenagers

Heart disease is the number on killer in the US, and it seems the upcoming generation is in line to keep with the deadly trend, as nearly 80 percent of teenagers are eating their way to atherosclerosis, hypertension, obesity, diabetes, and cardiovascular disease.

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) refers to any disease that affects the cardiovascular system, and is the leading cause of deaths worldwide. Cardiac, vascular, and peripheral arterial diseases are types of cardiovascular diseases.

Atherosclerosis (thickening of the arteries typically from accumulated cholesterol) and hypertension (high blood pressure) are the most common causes.

The research, published in the American Heart Association journal Circulation, was performed to assess the status of cardiovascular health in US adolescents. Christina Shay, PhD, an epidemiologist at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center, led the study.

Researchers reviewed data on 4,673 teenagers between 12 to 19 years of age; meant to represent a demographic sampling of 33.2 million US adolescents. The sample group had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) between 2005 and 2010.

The survey inquired about diet and exercise habits. Subjects provided blood samples and agreed to basic physicals.

Results were classified per the American Heart Association criteria of poor, intermediate, and ideal. Cardiovascular health was defined by health behaviors and health factors: smoking, body mass index (BMI), dietary intake, physical activity, blood pressure, blood glucose, and total cholesterol.

Less than one percent of American teens had ideal diets – the majority consuming too much sugar, fat, and salt. Less than ideal findings were calculated surrounding physical activity, as it was found only about 44 percent of females and 67 percent of males engaged in exercise – being physically active for an hour or more per day. Otherwise lifestyles were relatively sedentary, with 13 percent of boys and 23 percent of girls not physically active at all.

Nearly a third of subjects had prematurely poor cholesterol levels and poor BMIs. The analysis addressed substantial evidence that atherosclerosis has origins in childhood cross-referencing autopsy findings reported more than a century ago. The reports identified fatty streaks in the large arteries of children as young as 6 years of age.

Teenagers should reassess their activity and especially their diets as the current habits could lead to chronic, but preventable illnesses in adulthood.

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