Children are our future. Unfortunately, we aren’t teaching them all they need to know about wellness. Obesity rates are high; 1 in 4 children in Boulder County are overweight or obese. Children who are overweight are 70 percent more likely to be obese as adults. Weight is a risk factor for heart disease, Type 2 diabetes and joint pain.
Heart damage can start in children even before age 12. Children and youth who receive education about healthy eating, exercise and decision making are more likely to live a vibrant, full life.
UCHealth cardiologist Dr. Gary Luckasen and a team of nurses have designed, implemented and refined a research-based program called Healthy Hearts to engage children and teenagers in grades 4, 7 and 10. This school-based program provides free heart-health education and blood pressure and BMI readings to elementary, middle and high school students.
Educating kids about healthy living and heart disease risk factors is a move to address not only the obesity epidemic but the vaping epidemic.
The proportion of U.S. high school students who vape nicotine-containing products has nearly doubled in the past year, surging by 1.3 million between 2017 and 2018, according to a December report in the New England Journal of Medicine. Further, students who vape are more likely to become cigarette smokers than their peers who don’t vape, the report says.
NaNet Jenkins, manager of the UCHealth Healthy Hearts program, says no one knows the long-term effects of vaping. Because the product is so new, there’s little data on it.
“In the short term,” Jenkins says, “we know nicotine is an irritant to lungs, and irritants are the first step to cells changing, which is an indicator of cancer. Nicotine also causes arteries to get smaller, which can contribute to heart attacks and stroke.”
Healthy Hearts originated in Larimer County, and as obesity and vaping statistics indicate, there’s a need to expand the program to Boulder County. Last school year, Healthy Heartsreached one Longmont school. With your investment, we can expand Healthy Hearts to motivate and teach students in the entire St. Vrain School District.
The Healthy Hearts mission is to inspire and empower students to:
- Live a heart-healthy lifestyle.
- Prevent heart disease.
- Learn signs and symptoms of heart attack and stroke.
- Learn lifesaving hands-only CPR and AED use.
Healthy Hearts school-based screenings show that on average:
- 27% of students are overweight or obese.
- 23% of students have borderline or high cholesterol.
Healthy Hearts recapture data—2,000 elementary students rescreened in high school:
- 87% lowered their total cholesterol or maintained it in the recommended range (<170).
- 59% with elevated cholesterol (≥170) lowered to the recommended range.
- 60% of overweight or obese students lowered their BMI percentile, with 29% lowering to a healthy range.
You can help us create a healthier future for the next generation with a gift to support Healthy Hearts.
Consider your impact:
- $250 provides Healthy Hearts education for 15 students.
- $2,500 supports Healthy Hearts curriculum offerings in one school, reaching 150 students.
- $10,000 expands Healthy Hearts to four schools, reaching 600 students.
Make your gift today by donating on our website. Please designate your contribution to “LPH Healthy Hearts.”