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U.S. children’s diets may be dangerous for their hearts

U.S. children’s diets may be dangerous for their hearts

According to a recent study, American children's diets are largely setting them up for failure when it comes to cardiovascular health. High blood pressure and high cholesterol, long thought of as adult problems, are becoming more common in children, and according to the study, it's likely because of imbalances in their diets.

The researchers, led by Dr. Donald Lloyd-Jones of the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, surveyed data on 8,900 children ages two through 11 who had participated in the National Health and Nutrition Surveys (NHANES). They focused on the children's performance on four measures of health: body mass index (BMI), healthy diet, cholesterol and blood pressure, and found abysmal results.

None of the children surveyed measured high on all four indicators. Healthy diet was the least common indicator. It was measured by the presence of five components, including eating sufficient servings of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and fish and minimizing salt and sugar consumption. Less than 1 percent of the children met four out of these five goals. Not even 10 percent of children were getting the recommended four to five servings of fruits and vegetables per day, and fewer than 3 percent were getting enough whole grains.

"Our findings indicate that, in general, children start with pretty good blood pressure. But if they have a horrible diet, it will drive a worsening body mass index (BMI) and cholesterol levels," Lloyd-Jones wrote.

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