BC Medical Association

BC Medical Association

August 25, 2005 19:28 ET

BC Medical Association: Parents Have a Role and Responsibility in Preventing Chronic Disease in their Children

VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA--(CCNMatthews - Aug. 25, 2005) - Chronic disease is the leading cause of avoidable death, health care utilization, and premature death in Canada. Children who are physically inactive or overweight have an increased risk of developing a chronic illness. Many chronic illnesses can be prevented by controlling and reducing some of the risk factors in our own lives. The BC Medical Association urges parents to practice and encourage a healthy lifestyle to protect their own health and prevent their children from developing chronic diseases as a child or an adult.

Major risk factors for chronic disease are physical inactivity, high cholesterol, being overweight, having an unhealthy diet, smoking, excessive alcohol consumption, and high blood pressure. Maintaining a balanced, healthy diet and exercising at least 30 minutes a day are proactive steps parents can take to protect all family members from chronic disease.

Protecting children from chronic disease is a major component of the Stay Well section in the BC Medical Association's Healthy Kids campaign to Eat well, Play well, Stay well. This campaign equips parents with the information to make healthy choices for their children in order to prevent and reduce cases of childhood obesity. Please visit www.bcma.org/healthykids for more information.

What can parents do?

- Ask your doctor to measure your child's weight, height, and blood pressure at routine health visits

- Encourage healthy eating and provide healthy foods for your child

- Help ensure your child eats the daily recommended 5 to 10 servings of fruit and vegetables, 5 to 12 servings of whole grains, and an adequate amounts of dietary fibre each day

- Eat and serve a wide variety of foods low in saturated fat and cholesterol

- Limit saturated fatty acids to less than 10% of the total calories in the food you provide

- Limit the total fat intake in the food your family consumes to 20 to 30% of the total calories

- Limit your family members' cholesterol intake to less than 300mg per day

- Ensure your child gets at least 30 minutes of physical activity each day

- Increase your daily physical activity and decrease inactivity

- Walk more often and drive less often

About 500,000 people in British Columbia suffer from one or more chronic illness, and nationally 16,000,000 Canadians live with chronic illness. It is estimated that 67% of the total direct health care costs in Canada are spent on treating chronic illnesses. The major chronic diseases in Canada are heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, asthma, chronic lung disease, liver disease, rheumatoid and osteoarthritis, and mental illness.

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