Since South Asians experience heart disease 10 to 15 years earlier than most ethnic groups, they need to make their health and wellness a priority during all phases of life.
From Birth to the Senior Years
Heart disease prevention should start in the womb in the form of adequate nutrition for pregnant mothers. Numerous studies have shown that babies born with a low birth weight actually have a higher risk of developing heart disease later in life. As a result, South Asian mothers should realize that proper nutrition during pregnancy not only influences the health of a developing fetus, but may also reduce heart disease risk later in life.
Good eating habits must start during early childhood and should be combined with adequate exercise. Unfortunately, many South Asians believe that rounder children are healthier children. Based on this misconception, parents, grandparents and other extended family members frequently set unrealistically high standards for a child's daily food intake. Remember, round children frequently become round adults, and round South Asians adults are at a high risk for developing diabetes and heart disease. To prevent health problems in the future, South Asian parents should serve as role models and emphasize the importance of daily exercise and healthy eating to children at a very early age.
Finally, adults and seniors should realize that it is never too late to start making positive changes in their lifestyles. Adopting a healthy diet, starting an exercise program, losing weight and quitting smoking can significantly extend a person's lifespan and improve his or her quality of life. Adults should make it a priority to not only make these changes in their own lives, but also positively influence the lives of their loved ones.
While South Asians are facing a diabetes and heart disease epidemic, individuals can lead by example and become ambassadors of good health for their family and friends.