OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla. - Eating bad and sitting on the couch are just some of the poor habits that are turing into heart problems for teens. That's the word from a just-released survey.
The study came from a team of researchers headed by Christina Shay, Ph.D., of the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.
"Almost all children are born in the state of ideal cardiovascular health," said Shay, a faculty member with the OU College of Public Health’s Department of Biostatistics and Epidemiology. However, she said the study reveals that during the teenage years those children frequently make unhealthy choices that negatively impact their cardiovascular health, including smoking, poor diet choices and a lack of physical activity.
The research found that virtually all teens fall short in the area of diet.
In fact, none of the male teens had ideal healthy diet scores and only 0.1 percent of female teens had an ideal score.
In addition fewer than 50 percent of the teens achieved the ideal rating in five or more of the seven cardiovascular health measures.
Some of the results were less discouraging. Ideal blood pressure was generally high – 77.7 percent for male teens and 90.2 percent for females.
About two-thirds of the teens had an ideal BMI and ideal smoking status too.
"Smoking rates are decreasing among teenage groups," says Dr. Shay, "but as we know there are higher rates of obesity, higher rates of sedentary activity and diets are becoming more unfavorable."
Overall, Shay's study reaches a gloomy conclusion.
She said the low prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health behaviors in U.S. adolescents, particularly physical activity and dietary intake, will likely lead to worsening prevalence of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood glucose levels as the current U.S. adolescent population reaches adulthood.
“If habits and behaviors don’t change, these teens may develop cardiovascular disease at younger ages than previous generations,” she said.