A new study published in the journal Circulation suggests that adolescents in the United States are at a high risk of developing heart disease as adults due to poor health behaviors and unfavorable cardiovascular risk factors.
Researchers estimated the current state of cardiovascular health of U.S. adolescents based on the seven cardiovascular health components defined in the American Heart Association's 2020 impact goals, which include both health behaviors and factors: blood pressure, total cholesterol, body mass index (BMI), blood glucose, healthy diet, physical activity and smoking. The 4,673 adolescents were 12-to 19-years-old and represented about 33.2 million adolescents nationally.
The participants were part of the National Health and Nutrition Surveys and were equally divided between males and females of all major ethnic groups. The number of U.S. adolescents that are categorized as poor, intermediate or ideal for each component of cardiovascular health was described to provide a current "snap shot" of how U.S. adolescents are doing with regard to heart health. The healthy diet score (based on levels of fruits and vegetables, fish, whole-grains, salt and sugar-sweetened beverage intake recommended by the recommended by the American Heart Association) was the least favorable measure for both boys and girls across ethnic groups — with more than 80 percent rated as having a poor diet, researchers said.
- Less than 50 percent of the adolescents had five or more acceptable levels of the health factors (45 percent boys and 50 percent girls).
- Less than 1 percent of boys and girls reached ideal healthy diet levels. Advertisement
- Forty-four percent of the girls and 67 percent of the boys reached ideal physical activity levels.
- Two-thirds of adolescents had ideal BMI levels, 67 percent for girls compared to 66 percent for boys.
- One-third of adolescents had total cholesterol levels in intermediate or poor ranges.