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.

How to Support Parents of Transgender Kids in the Community

While the stigma surrounding transgender youth is slowly lifting, it still exists. Trans kids and teens need their parents and allies to listen, learn, and be the gender-affirming caregivers they need throughout their transition. If you are or know a parent who has a trans kid, being supportive is crucial. Here is how you can do that.

How to Support Parents of Transgender Kids in the Community
How to Support Parents of Transgender Kids in the Community

Ask Questions

The best way to help a parent with a trans kid is to go to them and ask questions. Instead of making up your mind with bits and pieces of information you “heard somewhere,” go straight to the source. Share your reservations, express your concerns, and don’t be afraid to ask silly questions. Of course, not all parents will be open to discussing their transgender kid with you, but that’s why you need to ask them and build the conversation from there.

Be the Ally That Trans Kids Need

Parents of transgender kids, much like the kids themselves, need to be seen, heard, and respected. The last thing they need or want is to be questioned or belittled. These parents are already experiencing an immense amount of adversity, often even from their own family, so they need people in their corner as they’re facing criticism from others. It’s not an easy role, but it’s an essential part of helping trans youth and their parents on this transition journey.

How to Support Parents of Transgender Kids in the Community

Don’t Ask Transgender Kids to Explain Themselves

When talking to a trans person, especially a kid, don’t attempt to deliberate your reservations with them. Transgender people don’t have to justify themselves, and asking a trans kid to do it is the opposite of helping. Any reservations or concerns you might have, you need to discuss with the parent. No child should ever feel invalidated or have a loved one question their existence. Remember, you’re their friend and ally, and it’s your role to protect them from unnecessary burdens and discomfort. They already get that from society.