ORLANDO, Fla.—A new analysis of federal data provides a dismal picture of children's cardiovascular health that suggests the current generation of teenagers could be at risk of increased heart disease.
Diet in particular was a problem, with not one of the 5,450 children randomly selected for the survey from the U.S. population meeting the standards for diet. Taking out the diet measure, still just 16.4% of boys and 11.3% of girls were rated ideal on all of the other six criteria, which included smoking, exercise, weight, cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar.
"In this country, essentially all of us are born with ideal cardiovascular health, but we lose it very quickly," said Donald Lloyd-Jones, chief of preventive medicine at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and senior author of the report.
The focus on children reflects growing awareness that while heart attacks and other consequences of cardiovascular disease typically strike later in life, the biological processes that lead to them begin in childhood. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said some studies indicate that "by six months, you can already see a worsening of cholesterol and blood pressure" because of diet and other factors.
The National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey is conducted by the CDC periodically among a nationally representative sample of Americans to track health issues. The new report, funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, is based on an analysis of three different surveys of adolescents aged 12 to 19 between 2003 and 2008, including a sampling intended to accurately represent minorities. The children in the study included 4,157 kids aged 12 to 17.
The toughest measure to hit was healthy diet, said Christina Shay, a researcher at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center and first author of the study. Not one adolescent reported meeting recommended targets on five different nutrition categories: at least 4½ servings of fruits and vegetables a day; three whole-grain servings a day; two or more servings of fish a week; less than 1,500 milligrams of sodium daily; and less than 36 ounces of sugar-sweetened drinks a week.
Soda or Pop? It's Teeth Trouble by Any Name It's called "pop" in the Midwest and most of Canada. It's "soda" in the Northeast. And it goes by a well-known brand name in much of the South.
People across North America use different words to identify a sugary, carbonated soft drink. But however they say it, they're talking about something that can cause serious oral health problems.
Soft drinks have emerged as one of the most significant dietary sources of tooth decay, affecting people of all ages. Acids and acidic sugar byproducts in soft drinks soften tooth enamel, contributing to the formation of cavities. In extreme cases, softer enamel combined with improper brushing, grinding of the teeth or other conditions can lead to tooth loss.
Sugar-free drinks, which account for only 14 percent of all soft drink consumption, are less harmful1. However, they are acidic and potentially can still cause problems.
We're Drinking More and More Soft drink consumption in the United States has increased dramatically across all demographic groups, especially among children and teenagers. The problem is so severe that health authorities such as the American Academy of Pediatrics have begun sounding the alarm about the dangers.
How many school age children drink soft drinks? Estimates range from one in two to more than four in five consuming at least one soft drink a day. At least one in five kids consumes a minimum of four servings a day.2
Some teenagers drink as many as 12 soft drinks a day3.
Larger serving sizes make the problem worse. From 6.5 ounces in the 1950s, the typical soft drink had grown to up to 20 ounces by the 1990s.
Children and adolescents aren't the only people at risk. Long-term consumption of soft drinks has a cumulative effect on tooth enamel. As people live longer, more will be likely to experience problems.
What to Do Children, adolescents and adults can all benefit from reducing the number of soft drinks they consume....