A new study highlights the low prevalence of heart-healthy habits among young people.
Many young people lead unhealthy lifestyles and have cardiovascular risk factors that could increase their chances of developing heart disease in adulthood, a study has shown.
Researchers at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Centre looked at data on 4,673 young people, aged 12 to 19 years, who had taken part in the National Health and Nutrition Surveys.
They found that more than 80 per cent of participants had a poor diet, based on their consumption of fruit, vegetables, fish, whole grains, salt and sugary drinks.
Just 44 per cent of girls and 67 per cent of boys achieved the optimum amount of physical activity, while only two-thirds of adolescents had an ideal body mass index (BMI).
The study also revealed that one in three young people had 'intermediate' or 'poor' total cholesterol levels.
Published in the journal Circulation, the findings indicate that the majority of youngsters engage in poor health behaviours and could be at risk of heart disease and stroke in the future.
Lead study author Dr Christina Shay, assistant professor of biostatistics and epidemiology, said that the physical activity levels and dietary intakes of participants were "far less than optimal".
This "is translating into obesity and overweight that, in turn, is likely influencing worsening rates of high blood pressure, high cholesterol and blood glucose at these young ages", she warned.
The expert observed that a person's heart health during childhood is a strong predictor of their cardiovascular health in adulthood.
As a result, all aspects of cardiovascular health - particularly physical activity levels and diet - need to be addressed "as early in life as possible", she added.
In addition to leading a healthy lifestyle, people who wish to maintain their heart health may want to consider using a food supplement such as AlphaGuard Plus.
Supplied by The Really Healthy Company, this full-spectrum antioxidant complex combines many effective antioxidant nutrients and complexes, including grape seed extract.
This natural plant extract is thought to have significant benefits for cardiovascular health and circulation, with a meta-analysis of controlled clinical trials - published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association in August 2011 - concluding that it may help to lower people's systolic blood pressure and heart rate.