A great percentage of children in the U.S fail to meet the laid down standards set for excellent cardiovascular health, with a lot of them having low physical activity and a poor diet, according to a scientific report from AHA. The report was made as a companion piece to an earlier report made in 2010.

The ideal metrics for children and adolescents should be;

  • Never smoked a whole cigarette.
  • BMI below 85th percentile.
  • At least sixty minutes per day of adequate to vigorous physical exercise.
  • Healthy diet score on at least four to five components.
  • Cholesterol less than 170 mg.
  • Blood pressure under 90th percentile.
  • Fasting blood glucose below 100 mg.

Julia Steinberger of the AHA stated that such physical activity must be started earlier in life to help the children to maintain ideal health all through their lives. However, data from CDC’s 2007-2008 NHANES report indicated that youngsters are not meeting any of these goals. Under 1% of children from 2 to 19 had their diet score consist of four to five components essential for a healthy diet, while about 86% of boys with 83% of girls had none or one of the components.

Examining their physical activity, 48.9% of boys from ages 6 to 11 and 34.7% of girls of the same age took part in 60 minutes of activity daily. However, the numbers plunged to 10% of boys and 3% of girls from 12 to 15 and 16 to 19 years old. Unhealthy behaviors continued to increase in prevalence as the children got older, with just 50% to 60% of youths reporting a model BMI, while 19% to 27% reported “poor BMI”.

Not surprisingly, these behaviors had a great impact on the cardiovascular health markers. Steinberger recommended that for children who don’t meet up to the ideal threshold, pediatricians can help fix the behavioral metrics for ideal heart health. Schools can also help improve children’s physical activity scores using programs like different physical education classes.