Health In Focus
  • 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.
Promote Heart-Healthy Lifestyle in Schools can Prevent Cardiovascular Deaths

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 findings of the study are being presented at the Brazilian Congress of Cardiology (SBC 2019). Additionally, as part of the ESC Global Activities program, the European Society of Cardiology (ESC) is holding scientific sessions in collaboration with the SBC.

The SBC Goes to School Project

The 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
    • Over 50% had consumed leafy vegetables
    • 91% carbohydrates like rice or pasta
    • 70% legumes
    • 69% had eaten fruit
    • Nearly 80% had consumed meat/chicken
    • Nearly 50% had consumed candy, chocolates and sweets
    • 42% had taken soft drinks/sodas
    • 39% had drunk powdered beverage mixes
    • 42% had consumed sausages
The findings of the study suggest that physical activity was well below the WHO recommendation of 360 minutes per week and consumption of processed and sugary foods was also significantly high.

Scope of the Study

In summary, heart disease is on the rise and creating awareness and education about risk factors such as unhealthy diet consisting of processed foods, a high carbohydrate diet and a sedentary lifestyle should begin from an early age and parents and teachers should play a major proactive role in preventing heart disease in children in adult life.

Reference :
  1. Tackling cardiovascular deaths requires urgent action in children - (

Source: Medindia

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