Because arterial stiffness is linked with atherosclerosis, rigid arteries makes the heart work harder to pump blood.
Besides low fruit and vegetable consumption, other lifestyle factors such as lack of physical activity and smoking in childhood was associated with pulse wave strength in adulthood, the researchers said.
"These findings suggest that a lifetime pattern of low consumption of fruits and vegetables is related to arterial stiffness in young adulthood," Kahonen said in a news release from the American Heart Association, which publishes Circulation. "Parents and pediatricians have yet another reason to encourage children to consume high amounts of fruits and vegetables."
"While it is never too late to use a healthful diet to prevent heart disease, it is certainly never too early," Katz said. "The best way to cultivate healthy blood vessels in adults, it seems, is to feed our children well."
In the second study, Finnish researchers found that children as young as 9 who had the most risk factors for heart disease -- including high levels of cholesterol, high blood pressure and a greater body mass index -- faced a greater risk of thicker carotid artery walls as adults, an early sign of heart disease.
"Cardiovascular risk factors measured at or after the age of 9 are predictive of vascular changes in adults," said lead researcher Dr. Markus Juonala, an adjunct professor at Turku University Hospital in Finland.
"Of the individual risk factors, childhood obesity was the most consistently associated with vascular changes across different age groups," he said.
Prevention of atherosclerosis should start in childhood, Juonala said, adding, "We should make all efforts to keep our kids fit, not fat."
For the study, Juonala's team c
All rights reserved