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Promoting Healthy Heart Policies for Children

There is a range of factors resulting in cardiovascular diseases among children. The important aspect is that the unhealthy lifestyle and dieting during childhood can affect the health of the cardiovascular system and cause the vulnerability in the long term, even if the damage is not obvious immediately. Children can only be taught the healthy mode of living through their parents. For the parents to engage in following the principles of care of their children’s healthy heart, the community needs to apply “social marketing techniques and community activation” (Shea, Basch, Wechsler, & Lantigua, 1996). It means that awareness about children heart diseases can be archived informing the parents about achievable changes in the diet and regime that will not only help to prevent their children from getting sick in the nearest future but also teach them useful habits to avoid long-term hazards.

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The key is to choose approaches that are easy for the parents to implement in their everyday life, to select the elements for children healthy heart program that will balance the lowering of the risk factors and the resources available for the parents. There are a lot of ways to achieve it, such as social advertising or placing stickers at supermarkets to indicate healthy-heart-friendly products. For example, it can be challenging to construct the whole menu for the children on the daily basis and in accordance with all the dietary parameters, daily value, and calories consumption. However, given the fact that one of the highest risk factors is exceeding consumption of saturated fats that come from the whole milk and full-fat dairy products, the solution is the simple replacement for the 1% or 2% fat dairy. It can provide children with valuable calcium, yet reduce the levels of fat intake of part of total calories “to 10% as recommended by US Public Health Service” (Shea et al., 1996, p. 167). It is a simple advice that both parents and children can easily remember, and that does not demand them to give up any products that may be essential to their dietary habits. Nevertheless, such steps will best confirm its usefulness if the availability of low-fat dairy is increased at schools and childcare institutions, and if the consumption of other products with the high levels of saturated fats, is moderate.

Even if a child has no indication of obesity, it is important to look into the intake of the fat food. However, the child obesity is a high-risk factor for many health-related complications, including the risks of cardiovascular diseases. Apart from genetic and dietary factors, some children do not get the needed level of the physical activity. And often it is the result of upbringing since not all adults find the time and willingness to commit to exercising on the regular basis. There are many facilities for physical exercise for adults, both indoor and outdoor, and naturally, children can be engaged in different sporting clubs or teams. However, not many programs are aimed at the joint physical activities of parents together with children.

One of the ways to promote exercising is to motivate both parents and children to do something together, make it not only for the sake of exercising but with the components of entertainment and competition. One of the possible examples is organizing the initiatives of family bike riding competitions. It can provide good cardio exercising together with pleasant leisure activity. Of course, it is crucial to consider all possibilities and develop kinds of similar activities for indoors, like family competitions in swimming that is also the good type of exercising for prevention of cardiovascular diseases.

In conclusion, it is a major fact for understanding that the parents’ influence on their children’s health and habits is their own example of healthy lifestyle and avoidance of risk factors causing heart diseases.

References

Shea, S., Basch, C., Wechsler, H., & Lantigua, R. (1996). The Washington Heights-Inwood Healthy Heart Program: a 6-year report from a disadvantaged urban setting. American Journal of Public Health, 86(2), 166-171.

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