Preventing Cardiovascular Disease risk factors in adolescence through nutrition

schedule 3 min read
Topic(s): Cardiology
World Heart Day

This World Heart Day (29 September 2022), the NNIA focuses on the importance of nutrition during adolescence to decrease risks of developing Cardiovascular Disease (CVD), later in life.2 Since adolescents make their own dietary decisions, it presents an opportunity for healthcare professionals to instill positive health behaviours in their young patients, thereby reducing dietary CVD risk factors. 

One of the common risk factors for CVD is a high fat intake, in particular high cholesterol, high saturated fat and trans fatty acids and high sodium levels1,3,4.13 Eating behaviours associated with a high risk of cardiovascular diseases typical of adolescents includes skipped meals. Reports have shown that adolescents who regularly went to bed after 11 pm were four to five times more likely to eat fewer than three breakfasts a week, and two to three times more likely to eat junk food at least five times a week.9

Healthcare professionals can give their young patients advice to remedy these risk factors:

  1. Limit fast foods to no more than once a week and replace chips, sodas and sweets with vegetables and fruits. 7,8
  2. Physically active adolescents should consume meals and snacks that have a higher nutritional value rather than larger volumes of unhealthy foods like energy drinks and fast foods. A study found that those who consume the latter had evidently higher levels of cholesterol and uric acid and greater insulin resistance, even when 60 minutes of moderate to vigorous intensity exercise was met.10
  3. Certain foods are naturally high in fat therefore avoid organ meats, and instead choose low fat dairy products, chicken without skin, and fish.6
  4. Certain foods are naturally low in fat and high in healthy fibers including oats, whole vegetables and legumes.5
  5. It is important for healthcare professionals to guide their adolescent patients to prevent risk factors of CVD through nutrition for increased health and wellness. 


  1. Capra, M.E., Pederiva, C., Viggiano, C., De Santis, R., Banderali, G. and Biasucci, G., 2021. Nutritional Approach to Prevention and Treatment of Cardiovascular Disease in Childhood. Nutrients, 13(7), p.2359. 
  2. Dahm, C.C., Chomistek, A.K., Jakobsen, M.U., Mukamal, K.J., Eliassen, A.H., Sesso, H.D., Overvad, K., Willett, W.C., Rimm, E.B. and Chiuve, S.E., 2016. Adolescent diet quality and cardiovascular disease risk factors and incident cardiovascular disease in middle‐aged women. Journal of the American Heart Association, 5(12), p.e003583. 
  3. Odegaard, A.O. and Pereira, M.A., 2006. Trans fatty acids, insulin resistance, and type 2 diabetes. Nutrition reviews, 64(8), pp.364-372. 
  4. Mensink, R.P. and Katan, M.B., 1990. Effect of dietary trans fatty acids on high-density and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in healthy subjects. New England Journal of Medicine, 323(7), pp.439-445.
  5. Chen, Z.Y., Ma, K.Y., Liang, Y., Peng, C. and Zuo, Y., 2011. Role and classification of cholesterol-lowering functional foods. Journal of Functional foods, 3(2), pp.61-69.
  6. Knellwolf, M.L., 2009. Childhood Obesity and the physical and psychological impacts on adults.
  7. NNI. 2018. Link between fast food and ‘bad’ cholesterol reinforced. 
  8. NNIA. 2015. Nutrition Issues in Adolescence. 
  9. NNI. 2018. Kids Who Go to Bed Late More Likely to Skip Breakfast and Eat More Junk Food. 
  10. NNI. 2018. Poor breakfast quality has a negative effect on cardiovascular health in childhood. 
  11. NNIA. 2021. 7 salty truths about sodium for World Salt Awareness Week 2021.