Chandigarh: In a first-of-its-kind study, a heart-healthy lifestyle is found missing in nine of 10 children from Punjab and Delhi.
The study by cardiologist Rajneesh Kapoor examined 3,200 children in the age group of 5-18 years through a questionnaire-based assessment on parameters that affect cardiovascular health.
Kapoor told the media here that each participant was given a cardiovascular health score based on their responses to body mass index, physical activity, bedtime hours, sleep time hours, dietary habits, and nicotine exposure.
The maximum attainable score was set at 100 and subjects were profiled for advice on lifestyle modifications based on their scores relative to it, he informed.
“A score less than 40 was categorized as concerning, children in this needed intense lifestyle modifications starting as early as possible. A score between 70 and 100 was healthy, whereas children scoring between 40 and 70 need moderate lifestyle movements,” he said.
The 24 per cent of the study population had a cardiovascular health score of less than 40, 68 per cent featured in the 40-70 score category, and lifestyle of just eight per cent met all criteria needed for a healthy cardiovascular system, he said.
Kapoor urged the parents to intervene and facilitate lifestyle modifications in their children that can potentially avert cardiovascular disease risk in adulthood.
Children’s lifestyle has a definable role in their risk of developing cardiovascular disease in adulthood, he warned.
He said a little or no physical activity followed by poor dietary habits were found to be the topmost factors negatively affecting the cardiovascular health score in the study population.
“Obesity was seen to be prevalent in 38 per cent of the total study population, inadequate sleep was in three per cent but improper bedtime hours were noted in the routine of 75 per cent of children. The body has a 24-hour internal clock, called circadian rhythm, that helps regulate physical and mental functioning.
“Early or late bedtimes may be more likely to disrupt the body clock with adverse consequences for cardiovascular health,” he said.
“Most people don’t think about risk factors during childhood but I think it is actually essential that we all start doing that. Because it is probably way easier to prevent the development of cardiac risk factors than to try and get rid of them once they’ve developed. So the question is what can be done,” he said.
“It starts with healthy eating, a good one is a diet where half the food is vegetables and fruits, a quarter is lean protein, and a quarter is a whole grain, with a side of dairy.
“Another very important step is to keep the children moving. Whether it is through a formal class or just playing at a park, physical activity should be worked into a family’s schedule. But the activity should be age-appropriate and align with the child’s interests,” added Kapoor.
Meanwhile, the study is lined up for presentation in the Innovations in Interventional Cardiology Summit 2022, a two-day annual meet, starting on August 27.