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Junk Food And The Teenage Body


“A panel of researchers presented data from a number of studies … during the 49th annual scientific sessions of the American College of Cardiology, that show that the ill effects of a poor diet not only bring about changes in the teenage body that increase risk of heart disease, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol levels, but that evidence of heart disease can already be seen on ultrasound examination.


Dr. Albert Sanchez and colleagues at the Pacific Health Education Center in Bakersfield, California, asked 211 students from three different high schools … about their lifestyles and eating habits. The researchers also measured blood pressure, height and weight, and took blood to measure cholesterol levels, triglycerides and uric acid levels. The students also had the thickness of their carotid artery walls measured by ultrasound. The carotid arteries, two large arteries in the neck, carry blood to the brain. Thickening of the walls of these arteries has been linked to an increase risk of stroke.


The researchers found that the Latino teens consumed more total fat and cholesterol than the other two groups. ‘They were eating an extremely horrendous diet, which makes them susceptible to heart disease,’ Sanchez said. ‘We were appalled… 80% to 90% (of the Latino teens studied) were eating this way. He found that overall, 37% of students had abnormally high cholesterol levels and a significant number had high LDL (‘bad’) cholesterol levels and high blood pressure – all risk factors for heart disease.


Co-investigator Jacques D. Barth reporter that a low-fat, high-vegetable intake translated into a thinner, healthier carotid artery wall. Students who consumed more fat and cholesterol had thicker artery walls. ‘We saw an excellent correlation between the amount of junk eaten and wall thickness,’ Barth said, and some of the teens ‘had the (carotid) walls of a 40-year-old.’


The investigators also showed the teens the ultrasound pictures of their arteries, to highlight their increased risk. At the follow-up a year later, Barth said that the pictures had made a strong impression and that many of the students had voluntarily changed their lifestyles.


‘The states have a responsibility in this,’ Barth said. ‘The schools are serving junk.’ ‘Our young people are eating a diet that is predictive of heart disease,’ Sanchez said. ‘The seeds of disease are already imprinted. We need to wake up Americans.’ -Thriveonline, March 13, 2000


Note: “As children emerge from babyhood, great care should still be taken in educating their tastes and appetite. Often they are permitted to eat what they choose and when they choose, without reference to health … The result of this training is gluttony, then comes sickness … Parents should train the appetites of their children and should not permit the use of unwholesome foods. But in the effort to regulate the diet, we should be careful not to err in requiring children to eat that which is distasteful, or to eat more than is needed. Children have rights, they have preferences, and when these preferences are reasonable they should be respected.” -The Ministry of Healing, p. 384

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