- Education and raising awareness about risk factors of heart disease and encouraging a healthy diet and lifestyle should begin in schoolchildren to prevent heart disease later in life
- Heart disease continues to be on the rise. The risk of heart disease increases in proportion to the duration of exposure to risk factors such as improper diet, sedentary lifestyle, obesity and stress, which start in childhood. Thus, addressing these risk factors should start in childhood
- Promoting and encouraging a healthy lifestyle in children is the collective responsibility and parents, teachers and policymakers should all come together to ensure that children grow up following a healthy lifestyle to prevent heart disease later
Raising awareness about risk factors of serious illnesses such as heart disease and stroke and encouraging a healthy diet and lifestyle should begin in schoolchildren to prevent heart disease in adult life, according to a recent novel "SBC Goes to School" study undertaken in São Paulo, Brazil.
Dr Karine Turke, of ABC Medical School, São Paulo, study author said: "Atherosclerosis - clogged arteries - starts in childhood and is more likely with a sedentary lifestyle and unhealthy diet. Exposure to these behaviors throughout life increases the risk of heart attacks and strokes, so prevention should begin in childhood. Yet children are sitting more, eating processed foods, and obesity is becoming the norm."
The SBC Goes to School ProjectThe program is led by Dr. Carla Lantieri, a cardiologist at ABC Medical School. It is an initiative of the Brazilian Society of Cardiology's Committee of Children and Adolescents, and supported by the São Paulo Society of Cardiology, the department of cardiology at ABC Medical School and the Department of Education of the state of São Paulo.
- The study expects to enlist 3,000 teachers and students (monitors) to train and awareness about heart disease and the risk factors
- These monitors will in turn, train nearly 63,000 students between 6 to 18 years from 210 public schools in São Paulo state. The novel program will begin on the 25th September, observed as School Heart Day, when students will undergo baseline estimations of physical activity and diet
- Following this, there will be further education and frequent monitoring of diet and activity in students
- The training program hopes to address seven risk factors (physical inactivity, stress, obesity, diet, smoking/other drugs, diabetes, dyslipidemia and high blood pressure) as well as two protective factors namely, healthy diet and periodic physical activity.
- Schools should play an important role in encouraging good eating habits and exercise. They will be helped by various disciplines, including psychologists, dietitians, cardiologists, nurses, and teachers.
Preliminary baseline results revealed the following
- The average age was 13 years and 51% were male
- The average time duration of performing mild, moderate and vigorous physical activity over a week was 40, 60 and 60 minutes respectively
- The average time spent remaining seated was 360 minutes per week
- Diet history of the previous day was as follows
Scope of the Study
- School children will learn to classify foods as minimally, moderately or highly processed, the harms of consuming excessive carbohydrates and sugars and the importance of being physically active
- Parents and teachers should play a proactive role
- Children should be involved in cooking meals at home
- Policymakers should enforce laws that prevent the sale of harmful processed and sugary foods to the general public, particularly schoolchildren
- Tackling cardiovascular deaths requires urgent action in children - (https://www.escardio.org/The-ESC/Press-Office/Press-releases/Tackling-cardiovascular-deaths-requires-urgent-action-in-children)