Raise Your Children Well

Positive factors in youth linked to better heart health later in life




Children with favorable psychosocial experiences may have better cardiovascular health in adulthood, according to new research in the American Heart Association journal Circulation.

Positive psychosocial factors include growing up in a family that practices healthy habits, is financially secure, is a stable emotional environment, and where children learn to control aggressiveness and impulsiveness and fit in socially.

In a Finnish study, participants with the most psychosocial advantages in youth scored higher on an ideal cardiovascular health index in adulthood than those with the least psychosocial advantages.

To calculate "ideal cardiovascular health," researchers used the American Heart Association’s Life’s Simple 7: being active, controlling cholesterol, eating healthy, controlling blood pressure, losing weight, reducing blood sugar and stopping smoking.

Results from the study revealed those with the most psychosocial advantages in childhood had:

  • 14 percent greater chance of being at normal weight as an adult;
  • 12 percent greater chance of being a non-smoker as an adult; and
  • 11 percent greater chance to have a healthy blood sugar level as an adult.

Researchers initiated the project with 3,577 children ranging in age from 3 to 18. They measured six factors: socioeconomic status, emotional stability, parental health behaviors, stressful events, self-regulation of behavioral problems and social adjustment. Twenty-seven years later, researchers assessed 1,089 of the participants 30-45 years old to determine their level of ideal cardiovascular health.

"The choices parents make have a long-lasting effect on their children’s future health, and improvement in any one thing can have measurable benefits," said Laura Pulkki-Råback, Ph.D., study senior author and research fellow at the University of Helsinki in Finland. "For instance, if an unemployed parent gets steady employment, the effect may be huge. If he or she also quits smoking, the benefit is even greater. All efforts to improve family well-being are beneficial."

Favorable socioeconomic status and self-regulatory behavior, meaning good aggression and impulse control, in youth were the strongest predictors of ideal cardiovascular health in adulthood.

Edit ModuleShow Tags

AD. American Heart Association Check Change Control Cholesterol logo. Take Action. Live Healthy! Download your free cholesterol guide today. button: heart.org/cholesterol. National supporter: Sanofi Regeneron.


 

AD: American Heart Association logo. Symptoms. Always feeling tired isn't normal. Learn the signs of Heart Valve Disease.


 

AD. American Heart Association logo. Know your blood pressure numbers. And what they mean. Gain Control. button: learn more.


 

AD. Heart Insight. Get the app for free.


 

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Special Topic Supplements

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Departments

Heart News

Heart health news you can use about new scientific findings, public policy, programs and resources.

Heartfelt

Articles, poems and art submitted by heart disease survivors and their loved ones.

Life's Simple 7

Improving your health is as easy as minding seven simple health factors and behaviors. Tips and information to help you improve your health and enhance your quality of life.

Life Is Why

Everyone has a reason to live a longer, healthier life. These heart patients, their loved ones and others share their 'whys'. We'd love for you to share yours, too!

Simple Cooking

Cooking at home can be a daunting task, but a rewarding one for your diet and lifestyle (and your wallet). Making small changes in your diet is important to your heart health. Here are simple, healthy and affordable recipes and cooking tips.