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In just the last three decades childhood obesity rates in the United States have more than doubled, and in 2012 over one third of U.S. children and adolescents were overweight or obese.i What impact will it have on their health in adulthood? The answer may come from the results of a new study from Italy—and it may not be a rosy one.

A team of researchers from the Bambino Gesù Children’s Hospital analyzed the health data of more than 5,700 healthy kids between the ages of 2 and 6 years. Roughly 10 percent of the children had become overweight or obese in the last year, and nearly half of that group was already showing signs of being at a higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes.

Metabolic indicators such as high blood pressure, high cholesterol and elevated blood sugar levels were present even in children who had only been obese for a short period of time, and scientists believe those indicators could lead to health problems earlier in adulthood.

The results prompted researchers to recommend screening kids at a younger age to detect such abnormalities, especially if there is a family history. They also encourage healthy diet and lifestyle choices such as increasing daily physical activity and reducing the amount of trans fats and sugar consumed.

i http://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/obesity/facts.htm

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woman-holding-childHeart disease is the leading cause of death in the United States, taking the lives of roughly 600,000 people every year. Stroke is not far behind—killing one person every four minutes. Now, the American Heart Association (AHA) and the American Stroke Association (ASA) are embracing the power of personal connection and social media to improve cardiovascular health and brain health nationwide. Why? Life is why.

The life is whycampaign, unveiled this month, aims to get people talking about heart and brain health and sharing their stories with others. Using the Life is Why microsite, people are encouraged to share their personal “Whys”—who or what inspires them to live healthier every day—through photos, videos and other content using the hashtag #lifeiswhy. They can also send Life is Why e-Cards to friends and family, as well as create and personalize t-shirts, mugs and other items.

“We wanted people to be able to be able to share with others the reasons for embracing a healthy lifestyle in heart and mind,” said AHA Chief Executive Officer Nancy Brown. The microsite also features a “tool kit” providing resources to promote awareness about healthy living. Visitors can read about the warning signs of stroke, find out where to take a life-saving CPR course, and get information on important diet and lifestyle changes that can improve cardiovascular and brain health.

Together the AHA and ASA hope to meet their goal of significantly improving American heart health by the year 2020 and promoting a world free of heart disease and stroke. In other words, they want to help people everywhere experience “more of life’s precious moments.”

For more information, visit: http://lifeiswhy.org/.

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