WASHINGTON – The alarming news is that millions of American children now exhibit signs of heart disease normally found only in adults. Yes, believe it or not, US children have high cholesterol and hypertension, and so they have to be put on medications. This sounds crazy. But it is true.
And how did this happen? Very simple. It is mostly about an extremely bad diet adopted on a massive scale by millions of families. As a result, American children eat too much of the wrong stuff: processed food, junk food, high sugar carbonated sodas, cookies and potato chips. And they do not eat almost any of the good stuff: fresh fruits, vegetables, fish, and whole grains.
The American food industry did this
We can thank the American food industry for this. It has managed to create very cheap processed products available now in every supermarket and convenience store that are really bad for you. This food, if consumed in large quantities, amounts to poison. But the marketing message is the opposite. The companies’ relentless advertising has convinced millions of Americans that snack bars and chips are nutritious and healthy.
Only 1% follow a good diet
Well, the compounded effects of this bad diet embraced now by almost every family and child in America are truly frightening. A recent study of 9,000 American children has concluded that only 1% –yes this is 1%– follow the optimal dietary guidelines recommended by pediatricians and nutritionists. Another 20% follow the guidelines at least to some extent. And this means that 80% do not. Think of this. 80% of all American children have bad to horrible dietary habits.
Teach about healthy food
No wonder that we see children with previously unheard of manifestations of heart disease. This is incredibly bad. The good news however is that all this can be changed. Of course, modifying entrenched eating habits will require a lot of education. Parents need to be taught about healthy food, so that they can properly feed their children. But education is possible. And, given the health catastrophe in the making, it has to be considered an essential and urgent effort.