Newswise — Childhood obesity is a national health care crisis. More than one-third of children and teens are overweight or obese. Plus, obese children are more likely to become obese adults.

Obesity is an especially dangerous condition in youths because it can damage a young healthy heart for a lifetime. Research shows that 70 percent of obese children and teens already have at least one risk factor for heart disease — the number one killer of adult Americans.

These early risk factors for heart disease caused by obesity can include the development of high cholesterol and high blood pressure. In addition to heart disease, obesity may cause children to develop pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes, asthma, sleep apnea, strain their bones and joints, and lead to low self-esteem.

World-renowned cardiologist, Valentin Fuster, MD, PHD, Director of Mount Sinai Heart at The Mount Sinai Medical Center, has an extreme interest in striking out the epidemic of obesity and its impact on cardiovascular health, especially to protect the world’s tiniest hearts in our children.

To prevent or reduce childhood obesity Mount Sinai’s Dr. Fuster recommends parents:

Start Early•Start obesity prevention early when your child is 3-5 years old.•Ensure healthy eating habits and exercise is part of child’s daily routine.

Provide Good Nutrition•Introduce daily healthy food and snack options: colorful fruits, vegetables, and water. •Avoid giving children access to food with excessive fat, sugar, and salt.•Limit soft drinks and fast food consumption.

Reduce Sedentary Lifestyle•Play with your child to encourage their physical activity.•Encourage daily aerobic activities such as walking, bicycling, skating, and swimming.•Limit child’s television watching and playing on computer.

About The Mount Sinai Medical CenterThe Mount Sinai Medical Center encompasses both The Mount Sinai Hospital and Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. Established in 1968, the Icahn School of Medicine is one of the leading medical schools in the United States, with more than 3,400 faculty in 32 departments and 14 research institutes. It ranks among the top 20 medical schools both in National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding and by U.S. News & World Report. The Mount Sinai Hospital, founded in 1852, is a 1,171-bed tertiary- and quaternary-care teaching facility and one of the nation’s oldest, largest and most-respected voluntary hospitals. The Mount Sinai Hospital is nationally ranked by U.S. News & World Report as one of the top 25 hospitals in 7 specialties based on reputation, safety, and other patient-care factors. For more information, visit Find Mount Sinai on: Facebook: @mountsinainyc