Feature Archive

Raising Heart-Smart Kids

It's never too early to start good family habits -- at the dining table and in the gym.

WebMD Feature

Reviewed By Charlotte Grayson

When one of the first words to come out of my daughter's mouth was "chips!" I began to wonder what kind of eating habits we were teaching her. I knew that American kids were increasingly tubby, and that many weren't getting enough exercise. Then I read that that researchers had found clogged arteries in boys as young as 15. And I started getting a little worried.

I began to imagine my 2-year-old twins (one girl and one boy) as teenagers, lolling around on the couch as they watched television and scarfed down tortilla chips. And I realized that if we wanted our children to be "heart-healthy," now was the time for us to model the kinds of habits and activities that would point them in the right direction.

Henry McGill, MD, agrees. "The early stages of heart disease begin in childhood," McGill told WebMD. And he's helped prove it. A pathologist at the Southwest Foundation for Biomedical Research in San Antonio, McGill was the lead author on a rather distressing new study published in the July 25, 2000, issue of the journal Circulation.

While reviewing autopsies of 760 young men and women, McGill and his colleagues found arterial blockage in 2% of the 15- to 19-year-old boys, according to their report. Although this percentage was tiny, the researchers were surprised to see any blockages at all in people of that age group.