Childhood program improves health 30 years later

Preschool intervention led to reduced blood pressure, obesity, especially among men

2:05pm, March 27, 2014

High-quality early childhood programs may reduce adults’ obesity and blood pressure, a new study finds.

Kids from poor families who were randomly assigned to a program of educational activities, basic medical care and healthy meals for the first five years of life displayed better health in their mid-30s than peers who didn’t get the intervention, say psychologist Frances Campbell of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her colleagues.

It’s not clear precisely how the childhood program boosted adult cardiovascular and metabolic health, the researchers report in the March 28 Science. But since a program with an average annual cost of about $18,000 per child in today’s dollars yielded sustained health benefits, the researchers conclude, early childhood interventions may represent a way to bring down health care costs.

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