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HEART Insight:
doi: 10.1097/01.HEARTI.0000359344.51615.97
Departments: On My Mind

Doing Right By Our Kids

O'Gara, Patrick T. M.D., F.A.H.A.

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Editorial Board Chair, HEART INSIGHT

Healthcare reform legislation focused on reining in medical costs and extending affordable health coverage to the uninsured and underinsured is currently being hammered out by several congressional committees. While debate continues on key provisions, including how to ensure that reform does not add to our national debt, there appears to be a consensus forming around prevention — chiefly, a healthy lifestyle — as being fundamental to the long-term success of healthcare reform.

Figure. PATRICK T. O...
Figure. PATRICK T. O...
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With this in mind, the current issue of HEART INSIGHT focuses on the health and fitness challenges faced by children and young adults, because it's never too early to nip a developing cardiovascular risk factor, such as obesity or type 2 diabetes, in the bud.

Our cover story profiles an extraordinary young woman, Madison Burke, who has dealt with her own family's heart problems by volunteering as a National Youth Advisory Board Member for Alliance for a Healthier Generation (page 8). She travels throughout her home state of Missouri getting youngsters so excited about good health habits that they go home and spread the word to their friends and family. You'll also enjoy meeting “Tha Hip-Hop Doc,” Rani Whitfield, M.D. (page 6). This New Orleans family physician's hip-hop CD and comic book series communicates the message to inner city kids that it's not cool to ignore your health (“A stroke's no joke/And heart disease comes with ease/Hypertension, smoking and diabetes”).

Burke and Whitfield are helping fill a void created when school districts nationwide cut recess and physical education classes. To that end, this issue of HEART INSIGHT also offers parents practical suggestions on how to encourage their kids to make nutritious food choices (“Downsizing The American Child,” page 11) and to include more physical activity and less TV-watching or video game-playing in their leisure time (“School's Out For Fitness,” page 13).

Finally, as smoking is a significant public health issue for kids — most new smokers start between the ages of 12 to 17 — I also want to commend Congress and the Obama Administration for enacting the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. This new law gives the FDA authority to regulate the tobacco industry, and tasks the Secretary of Health and Human Services to create a plan that enforces restrictions on advertising and promotion of cigarettes to minors.

We always look forward to your e-mail and letters commenting on our articles, or suggesting topics you'd like to see us cover. You can e-mail us at: or write to HEART INSIGHT, 333 Seventh Avenue, 19th Floor, New York, NY 10001.

And if you want to see what Editor Ruth Papazian is reading to keep up-to-date on topics of interest to HEART INSIGHT readers, you can follow her on Twitter:


Editorial Board Chair, HEART INSIGHT

© 2009 American Heart Association, Inc.