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Biden administration moves to protect Alaska wilderness; opening statements and first witness in NY trial; SCOTUS hears Starbucks case, with implications for unions on the line; rural North Carolina town gets pathway to home ownership.

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The Supreme Court weighs cities ability to manage a growing homelessness crisis, anti-Israeli protests spread to college campuses nationwide, and more states consider legislation to ban firearms at voting sites and ballot drop boxes.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

MO parents urged to 'lead by example' for kids' heart health

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Tuesday, October 10, 2023   

Heart disease takes more than 15,000 lives in Missouri every year, making it the number one cause of death in the state. This is the time of year that parents can step up their efforts to prevent it in the next generation. Studies indicate children as young as 10 to 14 can show the early stages of plaque building in their arteries - a precursor to heart disease. Missouri parents may wonder how they can lead their children by example towards heart healthy outcomes.

Madelyn Alexander, marketing communications director for the American Heart Association of Missouri, said the fall is a perfect time for family time and staying active together.

"Do a family walk. Get out, have the kids help you do some yard work," Alexander said. "Raking leaves is great exercise as we move into the fall season. So, being able to get outdoors and have them walk the neighborhood, do some yard work, are all ways to get in some physical activity."

One in five children in Missouri is overweight or obese. Starting them on heart-healthy habits can reduce the chances they will ever need to worry about cardiovascular disease. For parents, that means modeling behaviors like eating healthy foods, exercising regularly and not smoking.

Led by Washington University in St. Louis, researchers around the state are wrapping up a five-year study funded in 2019 by the CDC. They are examining the effectiveness of family-based Behavioral Treatment in low-income families, where childhood obesity rates are higher than among higher-income families. Alexander says all families, regardless of income, can participate in mindfulness and self-care to improve their health.

"Taking some time to take care of their mental health," she explained. "So, if they see you doing meditation, disconnecting from social media or from media for a while, and just reading and doing things that make us feel good, having your kids model that behavior will be good for their hearts and good for their minds."

MO HealthNet, the Medicaid program for Missouri, has allowed for reimbursement to health-care professionals who deliver Family-based Behavioral Treatment for obesity since 2021.

Disclosure: American Heart Association of Missouri contributes to our fund for reporting on Health Issues. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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