February is American Heart Month, and Suffolk County Legislator Tom Muratore, R- Ronkonkoma, wants to provide a helpful reminder; healthy hearts start with healthy kids.
“The childhood obesity rate is at an all-time high, which can lead to increased illness down the road, including high blood pressure, type two diabetes and elevated blood cholesterol levels,” stated Legislator Muratore. “Our children are our most valuable resource, and instilling heart healthy habits now will ensure an increased quality of life and productivity into the adult years.”
According to the American Heart Association:
- Approximately one in three children in the United States today is overweight or obese (nearly triple the rate from 1963)
- Overweight children have a 70-80% change of remaining overweight as adults
- Obese and overweight adults now outnumber those at a healthy weight; nearly seven in ten U.S. adults are overweight.
Unhealthy eating habits in children, paired with decreased physical activity, will lead to increased heart disease and shorter life spans if this trend is continued. In addition, obesity is also a major financial burden; currently it is more expensive to the healthcare system than tobacco and alcohol related illnesses.
So what is the solution? “Educating parents and caregivers is the first step,” says Legislator Muratore. “Good nutrition and exercise begins at home. Make wiser food choices, and encourage your children to play outside instead of sitting in front of the television or computer. In this day and age of busy schedules, it is very easy to fall into the trap of picking up fast food for dinner. A little time carved out to buy and prepare fresh food in advance will pay off in the long run and set a good example.”
For more information about heart health for people of all ages, please visit the American Heart Association’s website at www.heart.org.