I am a bit of a news junkie – I like to know what is going on. Two days ago an alarming, alarming, alarming headline hit the top of the medical literature: “Hypertension Rockets in US Kids.” Naturally I suspected this would be the most cutting edge news story to hit the US airwaves in months. A serial killer was on the loose and it was no longer targeting adults, it was now after children. You can only imagine my compounded horror as I flipped to cnn.com to review the most popular newsfeeds for the day, if not a breaking news headline, this was sure to be something people would be talking about…. Alas, the Octo-mom’s new boyfriend and Jenny McCarthy’s 7th playboy spread have trumped kids with heart disease – and to think that Jenny herself had been hitting the talk show circuit just a few years ago to advocate for her own son’s challenges. I am remaining hopeful that if she had known about the hypertensive headline, she would have used her most recent media attention to further dialogue around the cause…

This is a massive finding people. Heart disease, high cholesterol, diabetes and hypertension were historically reserved for de-conditioned adults with genetic predispositions chomping away on a standard North American Diet (SAD diet). The report was published online June 18, 2012 in the journal, Hypertension. In the published findings they cited that pediatric hypertension-related hospitalizations nationwide nearly doubled, from 12 661 in 1997 to 24 602 in 2006. Charges for inpatient care for hypertensive children increased by 50%, to an estimated $3.1 billion over the 10 years.

All economics aside, kids are suffering. This is the first generation EVER, that is predicted to not live longer life-spans than their parents. What will it take for us, the adults, to step up to the plate and demand better? Something better means education around food consumption, something better means less availability to processed foods, something better means we teach kids to value our health, not simply pop a pill to make the symptom; the eczema, the headache or the hypertension go away.

Step up my adult colleagues, challenge yourself to squeeze a few more minutes our of your day to prepare some real food, play with your kids outdoors and talk to the little people in your life about their most valuable asset, their health.