The holidays upon us, and so is everything that goes with it: decorations, shopping and gift giving, and food at every corner...specifically, calorie-dense sweet and not-so-good for us food.
You know what I'm talking about, how magically there seems to be a plate of holiday cookies or a bowl or holiday candy everywhere. Potentially the perfect storm for a multitude of poor health choices. (And hence, why so many of us gain weight during the next six weeks and make a variety of poor wellness choices.)
Fortunately, for you and for me, everyday wellness choices are just that. An everyday chance to do something right for ourselves. And in so doing, we have more energy and capacity to do right by others this holiday season.
Every December since having school-aged children, I have struggled with the onslaught of holiday excess...class parties, teacher gifts, too many days off school that disrupt everyone's schedules...it's enough to make me forget to breathe.
You can picture the scene, and it's not a pretty one: another cold day, perhaps too cold to play outside; another class party where some well-meaning parent brings those cupcakes in where the amount of frosting is higher than the actual cupcake, resulting in a pack of kids running wild through the classroom, only to crash in a heap when they get off the bus at your front door. Repeat tomorrow with the next child.
It's particularly difficult to reconcile this every year when so many of our nation's children are overweight or obese, and at risk for so many complications (think: diabetes, high cholesterol and cardiovascular diseases, to name a few).
So I was particularly intrigued to read a new study that not only do you and I know that a healthy lifestyle is the way to go, but that kids—our kids, the kids in our children's classrooms and on our kids' baseball teams—can help to lower their long-term risk of heart disease if they can achieve a normal weight (BMI) as adults.
This article that I read actually summarizes four long-term (as in 20 + years long!), longitudinal cohort studies that tracked heart disease in over 6,000 patients. They followed the patients BMI from childhood to adulthood. Great news (for them, and for us!): their results suggest that obese children can lower their risk for cardiovascular disease if they achieve normal BMIs as adults.
Therefore, it's never too late to encourage healthy lifestyles for all of us (try one small cookie, not the whole plate of cookies; walk up the escalator stairs at the mall or department store this week, don't take the elevator).
Great advice for the holiday season, and for the coming year.
Juonala M et al. Childhood adiposity, adult adiposity, and cardiovascular risk factors. N Engl J Med 2011 Nov 17; 365:1876
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