Action Schools! BC: The effect of a school based physical activity model on risk factors for cardiovascular disease in Aboriginal children

Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a chronic condition that can lead to heart attack and stroke. CVD costs the BC health care system approximately $2.5 billion a year. Sadly, the onset of cardiovascular disease often starts in childhood. About 50 per cent of North American children exhibit one or more risk factors for CVD and many children and adolescents exhibit multiple risk factors. These statistics are worrisome because the severity of CVD increases with the number of risk factors, and risks during childhood tend to track into adulthood. As a result, these children are susceptible to developing cardiovascular disease as adults. Previous research has linked higher levels of physical activity during childhood to a lower risk for CVD as adults. Lindsay Nettlefold is examining the prevalence of CVD risk factors in children and whether differences exist between girls and boys and between children of different ethnicity. She is also studying whether a school-based physical activity program can reduce the level of risk factors for cardiovascular disease in children. The goal to develop an effective program that could be used to improve cardiovascular health in children will prove beneficial in helping to prevent the development of disease later in life.