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Kids learn bad health habits from caregivers

Posted:  Friday, January 08, 2016

Kids follow the behaviours of their caregivers! Children are known to imitate their caregivers. Now, a new study finds that children also tend to copy the poor lifestyle and dietary habits of their parents, endangering their hearts.

The study was recently presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in Phoenix. The researchers enrolled nearly 1,500 children aged 8 to 16 years, and 1,020 of their adult caregivers for the study.

The researchers found that kids usually mimic the unhealthy habits of their parents or other caregivers. This puts them at risk of developing obesity, and chronic diseases such as high blood pressure, high blood sugar and high cholesterol levels.

The study indicated that when the caregivers were obese, girls were about four times more likely to be obese themselves, while boys were nearly seven times more likely to be obese. Children also matched their caregivers with regards to blood pressure and cholesterol. Moreover, children of caregivers who had at least one cardiovascular risk factor were twice as likely to also have a cardiovascular risk factor, compared to children with healthier caregivers.

Commenting on the study, Dr. Suzanne Steinbaum, a preventive cardiologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City said, "Although there is clearly a genetic component to heart disease, this study demonstrates how risk factors are often learned lifestyle behaviours, and occur from how kids are taught to live. Heart disease needs to be looked at as a true family issue and intervention needs to take place within the behaviours of the home."

The researchers emphasised the need for having more nutrition education programmes to cope with this disturbing trend. The focus of such intervention programmes on families with metabolic risk factors would enable their children to escape the gamut of preventable chronic disorders.

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