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America's junk food diet could lead to fatal heart attacks in majority of children, suggests vegetarian doctor


(NaturalNews) Dr. Charles R. Attwood, a board certified pediatrician and Fellow of the American Academy of Pediatrics, has spent 35 years teaching the world about the impacts of nutrition and fitness. His involvement in national health and nutrition policy is the reason the 1996 U.S. Dietary Guidelines for Americans acknowledged for the first time the benefits of eating a vegetarian diet.

In his book A Vegetarian Doctor Speaks Out, Dr. Attwood reveals that by the age of three, most American children have fatty deposits in their coronary arteries. The reason? A "radical" American diet, he says.

The little girl with the long blond ponytail would have been fifty-five years old today. But there she was, on my autopsy table in 1952. The end had come suddenly and unexpectedly, from bacterial meningitis. It was my first autopsy as a medical student, and I was nervous to say the least.

'I held her heart in my hand before opening it'

The professor and my fellow students were looking over my shoulder, and I was especially shaken, since this nine-year-old child had also been my "patient" a short time before.

Finally, after three tedious hours, I held her heart in my hand for a moment before beginning to open it. There, I saw, near the origin of her left anterior descending coronary, a visible yellow streak in the interior wall of the artery.

"That's cholesterol," said the professor, as he gathered the other students about me. "Look carefully, because you'll probably never see this again in a child." The fixed specimen was later added to the school's collection of medical rarities.

At that same time, unknown to all of us, autopsies were finding far greater deposits of fat in the arteries of the majority of American soldiers killed in Korean War, average age was twenty-one. Reports appeared in a major medical journal, but were largely ignored by practicing physicians.

When the same findings were reported fifteen years later, during the Vietnam War, again, it was hardly noticed. Here, their Asian counterparts were also examined and found to have clean arteries.

In 1972 a twenty-five-year study began in Bogalusa, Louisiana, whereby children were examined each year. Records were made of their weights, eating habits, cholesterol levels and blood pressure; and over the years, autopsies were done on those who died accidentally. What we learned from this research shocked us all. Please sit down.

The Bogalusa Heart Study

The Bogalusa Heart Study confirmed that children who eat a typical American diet have fatty deposits in their coronary arteries by age three. By age twelve, when most are entering junior high school, 70 percent have coronary fatty deposits. The deposits become much thicker and complex by the mid-teens, and virtually every adult has them by the age of twenty-one.

This largely ignored Bogalusa Heart Study was the subject of numerous conferences, two books, and over four hundred scientific articles. But the Korean, Vietnam, and Bogalusa studies, in medical libraries all over the world, gathered dust for the next several decades. No one seemed to have noticed.

These fatty deposits in children's arteries represent the early stages of coronary artery disease, but what causes them? The answer is clearly high blood-cholesterol levels, which in turn are caused by a diet too high in saturated fat and animal proteins.

According to the American Heart Association, 40 million American children have abnormally high blood-cholesterol levels. This is estimated by using the federal benchmark of 170 mg/dl as the upper normal level. Most researchers now feel that this upper normal level should not exceed 150 mg/dl.

'Prevention should start in the kindergarten years'

In my own pediatric practice, I find that one out of two children tested have cholesterol levels exceeding 150 mg/dl. Coronary artery disease is responsible for one-third of all adult deaths. But it doesn't appear magically at ages 40, 50, 60, or later, with the first (and often last) chest pain.

It's really a childhood disease, which takes several decades to reach its endpoint. Ideally, its prevention should start during the pre-kindergarten years, by changing children's eating habits.

The answer is simple: A daily diet of vegetables, fruit, whole grains and legumes. Meat, poultry, fish and dairy products should be relegated to an occasional side dish. This is the way most of the world's population eats, and they have practically no coronary disease.

The "moderate" American diet is really very radical.

In the spring of 1998, the front page of every newspaper in the world ran a story about 4,000 people dying in an Afghanistan earthquake. It was big news. However, the fact that 4,000 people die every day in North America from preventable heart disease gets no attention at all.

If a preventable industrial accident were killing this many people, something would be done. But for our greatest killer of all time, we simply consider it a natural part of growing old. The most vulnerable of all, now we know, are young, tender hearts.




Attwood, Charles R. (1998) A vegetarian doctor speaks out: Hohm Press

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