"Research has shown that unhealthy diets at a young age can contribute to cardiovascular disease later in life and that certain disease conditions can set in as early as 3 years old!"
In a recent study in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, introducing healthy behaviors in preschool students can lead to a healthier lifestyle for them and their family.
Researchers in Madrid studied over 2,000 preschool students through this intervention for three years. The intervention included classroom materials as well as take-home activities to do with their families. Pediatric psychologists were also assessing the students' knowledge and attitude towards their new habits.
"There is a need for a complete change in the timing of when we deliver care," said Valentin Fuster, M.D., Ph.D., senior author of the paper. "Until now, the clinical community has focused on cardiovascular disease, which typically manifests in the later stages of life. Now, we need to focus our care in the opposite stage of life—we need start promoting health at the earliest years, as early as 3 to 5 years old, in order to prevent cardiovascular disease."
Overall knowledge of leading a healthy lifestyle improved in as little as two years for the students, however, body fat percentages improved the greatest after three years of the intervention.
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