Lifestyle Interventions from Early Childhood Prevents Cardiovascular Diseases
The school environment is a great area to introduce lifestyle interventions because children are spending so much of their time there. 4-5 years of age is the most favorable time to start a school-based intervention focused on healthy habits. When children become aware of healthy habits they change towards a healthy lifestyle. According to a review published today in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology, implementing school-based programs aimed at teaching healthy cardiovascular health habits as early as preschool can achieve lasting lifestyle changes in children.
The SI! Program (Salud Integral -- Comprehensive Health) was developed as a multilevel and multi-component school-based program for the promotion of cardiovascular health and achieving lasting lifestyle changes in children from preschool age. The SI! Program breaks down cardiovascular health into four components. Through the first two components, children are learning how a well-balanced diet and physically active life are directly connected to a healthy heart. Next, they learn about emotion management, which seeks to instill behavior mechanisms against substance abuse -- mainly smoking -- and dietary decisions later in life. Finally, the children are taught about how the human body works and how it is affected by behavior and lifestyle. In order to accommodate the learning styles of preschool-aged children, the SI! Program used a heart-shaped mascot named "Cardio" to teach about the recommended healthy behaviors.