No one wants to think that a child who has barely started life could already be showing risk factors for heart disease. But,it’s absolutely true. The data isn’t exactly new although new studies come out all the time mentioning the presence of serious risk factors in children as young as age two.
Data published in 2009 show the following early warning signs increasingly present in 2 year old children:
- Higher BMI (Body Mass Index) numbers than ever before
- Larger waist circumference
- High cholesterol
- More children being classified as “obese”
- Elevated levels of C-reactive protein,an early marker for heart disease
All of these measures are used to predict future cardiovascular disease. And,no one wants to see children start out life headed directly for pain,suffering and early death. Experts all say that children as young as two should start being monitored for the above. Measure your child’s waist and keep track. If the numbers keep climbing it’s not good. Check his or her BMI as well. A healthy level would be below the 85th percentile. Ask your pediatrician to test blood cholesterol and C-reactive protein as well.
Use these tools to stay on top of how your child is doing. Even if it doesn’t seem as if a child is overweight by appearance,they could very well have too much body fat in relation to muscle. And,most parents studied are not able to accurately describe their preschool child’s activity and dietary habits. In fact,a study that came out of Knoxville earlier this year showed that mothers of preschoolers thought that their children got more physical activity and ate better than the mothers of older children. In reality,there was little difference between the two groups of children.
Does that mean there may be a tendency during the early years for caretakers to “think”children are getting enough physical activity and are eating better than they really are? Perhaps that’s part of the everlasting stereotypical notion that toddlers get all the exercise they need running adults ragged and that they eat plenty of fruits and vegetables when neither of these statements are true.
Doctors recommend that children start learning healthy lifestyle habits from as early as age two and that physical activity be used to control weight vs. any type of drug therapy. No one knows what kinds of issues will emerge now once today’s children are adults. Years of stress and too much weight placed on all the vital organs will take some toll. The more we all do now to curb obesity and risk factors,the less that effect will be later.