Do our kids have a bleak future?

As close to a salad as he'll get

I'm taking a break today from my series of posts on greenhouse gases, alternative energy source, volcanoes and global warming. All of those will affect the generations to come and those now growing up, but I want to re-examine another side of their issues. This morning I read two articles and one newspaper report on the heart health prospects for our American kids (and, by extension, kids elsewhere in the developed/rapidly developing world). The initial article came from a section of the Wall Street Journal I hadn't gotten around to reading yesterday and was about to recycle. Then I saw a title that caught my eye, "Kids' Hearth Health Is Faulted."

I found a CDC website with an explanation of the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, NHANES. This is a continuation of a US Public Health Service effort started 40 years ago and is updated annually. Medically-trained interviewers may well come to your town and even to your front door someday. The data they obtain is used in many ways (I'll paste in a website that leads you to some comments on NHANES as well as to a link to a video).

Now a portion of the survey/study looked at 5,450 kids between 12 and 19, finding they were a long ways from matching the American Heart Association's (AHA) seven criteria for idea cardiovascular health (see 2nd link below to Harvard's Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's article on the subject). The adult health measures, known as Life's Simple 7, are: 1). Never smoked or quit more than a year ago; 2). Body Mass Index (a measure of height versus weight) <25; 3). Physical activity on a weekly basis for 75 minutes (vigorously) or 150 minutes (moderate intensity).; 4). a healthy diet (four or more components meeting AHA guidelines); 5). total cholesterol <200 mg/dL; 6). blood pressure (BP) <120/80; and fasting blood glucose (AKA blood sugar) <100 mg/dL. The original article was published in the journal Circulation January 20, 2010 and is available free online. The metrics are slightly different for kids.

So where do our kids stack up? If you exclude eating a healthy diet, only 16.4% of boys and 11.3% of girls meet the standards for the other six criteria; if you include diet, none of them do. They don't eat four to five servings of fruits and vegetables a day; they also don't get enough whole-grains or fish and they consume far to much salt and sugar-sweetened drinks. Only one fifth of them even eat "fairly well."

drop that hamburger and run for an hour

Many of then also don't exercise on a daily basis for at least sixty minutes (50% of the boys do and 40% of the girls). More than a third are overweight or obese.

There's some hope: a just-published article in the New England Journal of Medicine, examining the data from four studies following 6328 kids, found that those who do manage to lose weight had lower risk for type 2 diabetes, hypertension, abnormal lipids and carotid artery disease.

So I'm heading to the health club and will read the 2010 Circulation tome on an exercise bike.

Thus far my one biologic grandson, about to be 12,  is physically active and slender. I'll encourage him to stay that way and the non-biologic grandkids to follow his example.

More on this subject to come.

Check out these articles:

Survey Results and Products from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey

AHA Defines "Ideal" Cardiovascular Health


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3 Responses to “Do our kids have a bleak future?”

  1. Myles Pahl says:

    With havin so much content do you ever run into any issues of plagorism or copyright infringement? My blog has a lot of unique content I've either written myself or outsourced but it looks like a lot of it is popping it up all over the internet without my permission. Do you know any solutions to help prevent content from being stolen? I'd definitely appreciate it. Now I want to ask you something else. I have heard the Low Carb Diet is a very good way to improve your health as well as losing weight. is that true? And one more thing, have you ever heard about the "telic 22 diet"? (google it to learn about it) Ive read some great things about it and my work buddy lost crazy amounts of weight with this diet.

  2. Myles, When I write a post I'm doing research, much as I did years back, and I always cite the article or review I get material from. I usually start with one article in a newspaper or medical journal and then search out the backstory of the research and the author.
    I have copyrighted one story I've published online, but I'm unaware of any way to prevent someone taking portions of your work and using it least at present.
    As for diets, I believe in eat less, do more. I was at 146.6 pounds the day before Thanksgiving (versus 172 in high school, a max of 218 nine years after stopping college wrestling) and allow myself a three pound weight-gain limit.
    I don't know anything about the "Telic 22 diet" and will Google that one, but high and low carb and high and low protein diets are no substitute for eating less meat, more fruits and vegetables and getting more exercise..


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