Cardiovascular Health Promotion for Children: A Model for a Parish (County)–Wide Program (Implementation and Preliminary Results)


Address for correspondence: Gerald S. Berenson, MD, Tulane Center for Cardiovascular Health, 1440 Canal Street SL-18, Suite 1829, New Orleans, LA 70112


Cardiovascular (CV) risk factors in childhood result in a lifetime burden on the CV system. The Bogalusa Heart Study, a prevention program for children, addresses behaviors and lifestyles associated with CV risk. This prevention program utilizes the substructure of a Parish (County) that can be a model for other areas. All aspects in educating school children—the classroom, physical activity, cafeteria, teachers, and parents with community involvement—are included. The program requires cooperation of parents, schools, physicians, and political and business personnel. Their collaboration helps implement and sustain the program. Understanding the origin of coronary artery disease, hypertension, diabetes, and now the obesity epidemic shows the need to develop a framework for improving lifestyles and behaviors beginning in childhood. In addition to nutrition and exercise, the program addresses tobacco, alcohol, and drug use, and societal problems such as dropping out of school, violent behavior, and teenage pregnancy. An initial accomplishment is the entry into all elementary schools, representing approximately 7000 children. Early results show reduction in obesity, increased physical activity, improved decision making, and healthy attitudes. This public health model is inexpensive by utilizing prior research findings and integrating into community resources. Health education of children is an important aspect of preventive cardiology with a need for pediatric and adult cardiologists’ involvement.

Prev Cardiol. 2010;13:23–28.©2009 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.