WASHINGTON, April 29 /PRNewswire/ -- In a study presented at this week's
American Heart Association's national conference on Cardiovascular Disease
Epidemiology and Prevention, UCLA researchers reported that diet and exercise
can improve not only the cholesterol levels of children but also a wide range
of other biomarkers linked with heart disease. In the first ever study to
show such benefits, researchers found improvements in insulin, triglycerides,
blood sugar levels, and inflammatory markers like C-reactive protein and
oxidative stress among youngsters, ages 9 to 15, participating in a two-week
family program at the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa in Aventura, Florida.
The kids, almost all overweight, were at Pritikin with their parents to
learn how to make exercise an enjoyable part of their daily lives and eat
nutritiously (lots of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and moderate amounts
of lean protein).
At the start of the program, Dr. James Barnard and colleagues at UCLA
Department of Physiological Science took baseline blood tests of the children,
measuring eight different biomarkers associated with abnormalities that lead
to heart disease. Two weeks later, blood tests were taken again. The
scientists observed dramatic decreases in all biomarkers.
Total cholesterol fell on average 21 percent, LDL "bad" cholesterol
decreased 25 percent, triglycerides (blood fats) plummeted 39 percent, and
insulin levels fell 30 percent. Key markers of inflammation in the arteries,
including C-reactive protein, oxidative stress, serum adhesion molecules, and
gelantinase activity, fell 41 percent, 90 percent, 53 percent, and 49 percent,
respectively. Inflammation can lead to the formation of plaque, hidden inside
artery walls, which can rupture without warning, causing a heart attack.
"What struck me most about this study were the relatively high levels of
biomarkers in people who were so young," commented Dr. Barnard. "A lot of
parents think, 'Yes, my kids are fat, but their arteries must still be nice
and clean, so they're a long way from serious health problems.' Well, our
research shows that's just not the case. What you see on the outside very
much mirrors what's going on inside."
Dr. Barnard and his team were prompted to conduct the study because of
previous research -- autopsy studies -- showing that plaque build-up in the
arteries, or atherosclerosis, begins as early as the first decade in life.
The study was funded by the Nathan Pritikin Research Foundation.
The good news, emphasizes Barnard, is that lifestyle changes can induce
beneficial results, and in a very short period of time, just two weeks.
What's more, the children didn't need to lose a lot of weight before reaping
remarkable rewards for their hearts. "The biomarkers were dramatically
reduced with just minimal weight loss," he notes.
"It's a hopeful message for both kids and adults," says Barnard. "Keep
exercising and eating nutritiously. Even if weight loss happens slowly,
getting healthy happens very quickly."
The Pritikin Family Program, held every summer since 2002 at the Pritikin
Longevity Center, is led by Pritikin's physicians, dietitians, and exercise
physiologists. "Our goal is teaching families how fun and rewarding healthy
living can be," says registered dietitian Jeffrey Novick. Activities include
kid-friendly cooking workshops like "Awesome Fruit Smoothies," lively
noncompetitive exercise classes such as "Cardio Blast" workouts, field trips
to mall food courts to learn how to make good choices, tennis lessons, and
afternoons playing at the beach.
About the Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa:
The Pritikin Longevity Center is located at Turnberry Isle in Aventura,
Florida. No other diet-and-exercise approach has been more closely studied by
the scientific community or has achieved such phenomenal success. Over the
past three decades, more than 100 studies have been published in key medical
publications like the New England Journal of Medicine and the Archives of
Internal Medicine. These studies have documented the Pritikin Program's
achievements in helping people overcome heart disease, high blood pressure,
elevated cholesterol, type 2 diabetes, obesity, osteoporosis, and even cancer.
Scientists from Harvard Medical School, MIT, Stanford University, UCLA, and
many other research institutions have lauded Pritikin's effectiveness in
improving people's health and lives.
SOURCE Pritikin Longevity Center & Spa