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Heavy Hearts: Childhood Obesity: February 2, 2011

Her goal: to end childhood obesity. First Lady, Michelle Obama’s iniative to get children to eat better and be more active is now in full swing. And the earlier they make make the change, the better. “Losing weight tends to help diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, all risk factors for heart disease,” says Lee Memorial Health System cardiologist, Dr. Brian Taschner.

While many parents may focus on the scales, one thing they may not consider is how their child’s weight is weighing on their hearts. A recent study finds that more 20 and 30-somethings are being diagnosed with heart disease and suffering strokes due to their weight. “The earlier people develop these problems and the longer the time they have to affect the heart, the more likely these people are going to develop problems at a younger age.”

It’s a message that adults should take to heart as well. “Over a third of our population is morbidly obese now and that contributes significantly to coronary heart disease and stroke - which are the number one killers in our country,” adds Dr. Taschner.

Just losing 20% of your body weight can reduce cholesterol numbers and lower blood pressure. Losing more than 20% can also help to offset dangerous diseases. “If people really commit themselves to losing weight, many of these problems can be cured.”

One way to crunch those numbers is to adopt a healthy plan that the entire family can follow. Your family’s primary care physician can help put together a strategy for you.