Healthwise Ottawa Spring-Summer 2016

Page 24

Preventive Medicine By Dr. Craig Herrington


hronic diseases and their risk factors continue to be an important public health issue in Canada and throughout the world. Globally, chronic disease accounts for approximately 63 per cent of all deaths. Hundreds of millions of dollars are spent targeting prevention, which experts agree is critical; however real preventive medicine starts with kids. Scientists have discovered that lifestyle behaviours and even life experiences can flip “on/off switches” on the genes that lead to

chronic disease; this is known as epigenetics. Epigenetic experts believe that environmental factors such as diet, exercise, and stress can directly affect the health of both current and future generations. So what does this mean for our children, and how does it impact the way we raise the next generation? First, we need to recognize a problem. Parents use nutrition practices that have evolved over thousands of years to promote patterns of food intake for children’s growth and health. It is only in the past several decades

In the battle for your kid’s health, nutritious choices like broccoli must compete with ever-present and heavily advertised fast foods (say, a cheeseburger). Who wins this food fight will have longlasting consequences for your child’s future health and risk of disease. 24 HEALTHWISE OTTAWA Spring/summer 2016

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