Kids of All Ages in the United States Score Low on Heart Health

According to a new health assessment tool called Life’s Essential 8, most US children and adults have poor scores for heart health.

Child holding a heart-shaped object
The Results Are Terrifying

Fewer than 30% of the tested children between the ages of 2 and 19 had high scores for cardiovascular health. And their results got lower with age. Only 14% of the kids between 12 and 19 had high scores, which is a drastic drop when compared to 33% displayed for children between 6 and 11, and 56% for kids between 2 and 5.

Senior author Dr. Amanda Marma Perak, a cardiologist at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, shared in an interview that their analysis showed that US children’s scores were lowest for diet metrics, which is coherent with the results her team saw in adults.

Group of children lying down in the park.
Marma Perak, who is also an assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago, is convinced that small lifestyle changes can make a considerable difference in heart health.

Quality Food = Better Heart Health

She claims that individuals and families who focus on improving their eating patterns can significantly boost their total cardiovascular health, regardless of whether they shed, gain, or retain their weight.

kid eating a cheeseburger

However, she’s adamant that individual effort won’t be enough to change this negative tendency. She believes that authorities should offer people policy-level support for better diets. They should work on granting subsidies for fruit and vegetable production, making healthier food more available, and removing sugar-sweetened beverages from schools.

Maintaining better heart health, at all ages, is directly linked with favorable health outcomes and a better quality of life. This can be achieved through a proper diet and regular exercise. The earlier children develop these habits, the better off they’ll be because they won’t have to struggle with cardiovascular problems when they reach adulthood.