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Children Present a Window of Opportunity for Promoting Health: JACC Review Topic of the Week



Abstract

Cardiovascular disease is the leading cause of death and disability in the world, largely because of risk factors modifiable by changes in behavior. There is evolving evidence that our behavior as adults has its roots in the environment that we live in from early childhood. Early sustained multicomponent educational programs focused on health promotion in children may represent a window of opportunity to potentially prevent disease in adulthood. The integration of school-based, family-based, and community-based strategies, along with the support of public policies, are likely necessary for the success of these programs. In this review, the authors describe the future of promoting health. Specifically: 1) reasons why children should be a focus for health promotion (alarming trends of risk factors, association between unhealthy factors and subclinical disease, and cost-effectiveness); 2) strategies for health promotion in children (school-based, family-based, and community-based approaches) along with legislative efforts; and 3) research gaps are discussed.

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