If you’re a parent of a teenager, you’re probably familiar with the mood swings hormone surges can produce. You know how they affect temperament — but what about heart health?
Although hormone changes and rapid growth can cause temporary changes in cholesterol levels or blood pressure, hormonal surges don’t pose a real health risk, said Dr. Stephen Daniels, chairman of the Department of Pediatrics at the University of Colorado School of Medicine.
A mix of psychological, physical and environmental changes and, most importantly, behaviors and decision making, can affect a teen’s health. With new choices, experiences and influences, many teens crave peer acceptance and want to fit in, all of which influence health decisions. Choices about smoking, diet and physical activity are critical.
Smoking is one of the most critical health topics a teen can tackle. In fact, 68 percent of adults who smoke began smoking regularly at age 18, and every day almost 3,900 adolescents under 18 try their first cigarette, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Talk to your kids about smoking. Don’t underestimate your influence — if you smoke your child is more likely to smoke too. Learn more about quitting yourself.
Another key factor is physical activity. Studies have shown that a child’s physical activity level can decrease during adolescence. This may be an even bigger concern for teen girls than boys, according to Dr. Daniels.
Be sure and encourage physical activities at home, at school and with your child’s friends. Learn how to find time get the whole family heart healthy.
As teens spend more time outside the home, peers often have a bigger influence on what they eat. About one in three kids in the United States is overweight or obese. Eating out, larger portion sizes and lack of activity are major culprits. An overweight child has a 70 to 80 percent chance of staying overweight as an adult. It’s important to establish good habits at home now.
What can you do?
Don’t underestimate your influence as a parent, even when your kids act like it doesn’t count. Talk to your teen about the importance of diet, physical activity and not smoking. And help foster a healthy environment. If you smoke, quit, eat healthy meals together and get moving as a family so your teen will have healthy habits to carry forward.
Courtesy American Heart Association
For more info go to: The Dallas Chapter of the American Heart Association