It’s that time again. Time to think about back to school shopping, finishing up summer assignments and preparing for the new school year. The hustle and bustle of back to school can get hectic, but remember to prioritize your child’s overall health. This September, National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month, it’s important to keep our children’s brains educated and stimulated and just as important to make sure their bodies are healthy, too.
Today, about one in three American kids and teens is overweight or obese. This is nearly triple the rate in 1963. Childhood obesity can lead to a broad range of health problems including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, and elevated blood cholesterol levels. Cholesterol circulates in the blood, and as blood cholesterol levels rise, so do health risks. High cholesterol is one of the major controllable risk factors for coronary heart disease, heart attack and stroke.
Creating a healthy lifestyle starts at home. Life’s Simple 7 for Kids can help teach children the small things they can do every day to keep their heart’s healthy. These small things include the following:
- Avoid smoking and using tobacco products. Using any tobacco product damages nearly every organ in your body and can cause heart disease and cancer. Using smokeless tobacco is NOT a safe alternative to smoking!
- Be physically active every day.
- Eat a heart-healthy diet. Healthy foods should be low in salt and added sugars, and limited in the types of fat that harm your heart.
- Keep a healthy weight. Keeping a healthy weight is best achieved over time and with a decision to keep yourself healthy. Healthy eating and regular physical activity can help achieve this.
- Keep your blood pressure healthy. Blood pressure is a measure of how easy or difficult it is for your heart to pump blood through your body. Sometimes, blood vessels become narrow or less flexible which makes the heart pump harder to get the blood to go through the vessels and increases pressure so it’s important to know your numbers.
- Keep your total cholesterol healthy. Your diet can play a big role in your cholesterol levels, choose foods that are low in saturated fat and trans fats and high in whole grains.
- Keep your blood sugar healthy. If your blood sugar goes high too often, it can overwork your body’s ability to keep your blood sugar in healthy ranges, and you’re more likely to develop diabetes.
For more information on a healthy lifestyle for kids, please visit heart.org/healthykids.
Our mission is to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. For nearly 100 years, we’ve been fighting heart disease and stroke, striving to save and improve lives. Heart disease is the No. 1 killer worldwide, and stroke ranks second globally. Even when those conditions don’t result in death, they cause disability and diminish quality of life. We want to see a world free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke.