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April 1, 2013

OU researcher finds worrisome trends in teen lifestyle choices

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OKLAHOMA CITY —

Overall, Shay's study reaches a gloomy conclusion. She said the low prevalence of ideal cardiovascular health behaviors in U.S. adolescents, particularly physical activity and dietary intake, will likely lead to worsening prevalence of obesity, hypertension, high cholesterol and high blood glucose levels as the current U.S. adolescent population reaches adulthood.

“If habits and behaviors don’t change, these teens may develop cardiovascular disease at younger ages than previous generations,” she said.

Advancing medical technology will likely mean that these teenagers who go on to develop cardiovascular disease will be able to live longer with the disease than previous generations.

"They could potentially still live as long or longer than their parents," Shay says, "but they'll likely experience a lower health-related quality of life as they age."

Shay says two things are needed to improve the bleak health outlook for teenagers today. First, medical providers need to more strongly emphasize the importance of maintaining a healthy lifestyle to teenagers and their parents. Second, a major shift in social and cultural concepts of disease prevention will be necessary.

"It's going to require support from parents, from families, from healthcare professionals--and even more complicated -- from industry, government and schools to truly affect change.”

The research appears today in the online issue of the journal Circulation, a publication of the American Heart Association.

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