Educating Children on Healthy Behaviors is Showing Reduced Heart Disease Risk

Lisa Nelson, RD, LN Health Pro
  • At the American College of Cardiology Scientific Session in March of 2012, information was presented from the University of Michigan Systems showing that children understand the effect of healthy behaviors on overall health.


    Project Health Schools, which is a community-University of Michigan System project, measured risk factors for heart disease in middle school children. Measured risk factors included lipid profiles and physical activity before and after receiving education on healthy behaviors. They found that after receiving education the middle school students showed positive behaviors towards improving lipid profiles, LDL cholesterol, and triglycerides. This indicates middle school children are not too young to understand the impact of healthy behaviors and they have the ability to implement changes.

    Add This Infographic to Your Website or Blog With This Code:


    This implementation of healthy behaviors at an early age is critical to lifelong health and reduced risk for heart disease, heart attacks and strokes. According to the Centers for Disease Control, 17% of children and teens are overweight or obese. This is triple the rate one generation ago and puts children at increased risk for health complications just as excess weight impacts adults.


    A randomized controlled trial, led by Dr. Brian Ference of Wayne State University School of Medicine in Detroit, stated when started early in life, diet and physical activity can be just as effective as statin medications for reducing cardiovascular disease risk.


    The randomized, controlled trial examined treatment to lower LDL cholesterol levels. The goal was to test this hypothesis that steps taken in early life do produce greater reductions in heart disease versus waiting until adulthood. To estimate clinical benefits researchers used nine single nucleotide polymorephysims (SNPs) from six genes linked to lower cholesterol. Results found all nine SNPs to be connected to a 54% decline in heart disease risk. For comparison, statin meta-analyses find that lowering LDL cholesterol 1 mmol/L later in life through the use of statin medication reduces risk 24%. To attain the same 54% reduction later in life, LDL would need decreased 3 mmol/L.


    Hence the conclusion that prolonged exposure to healthy LDL cholesterol levels starting in childhood is connected to a threefold increased clinical benefit compared to each 1 mmol/L reduction in LDL cholesterol later in life.


    This is why I encourage you to educate your children on healthy versus unhealthy food choices and activity habits…and remember, they model what they see. If you can implement changes in your own habits it’ll not only benefit your health but they health of your children.


    If you currently live with high cholesterol levels, you can access the free ecourse “How to Lower Cholesterol in 8 Simple Steps” at

Published On: March 26, 2013