One of the questions we’re asked from clients at Edison is “is this something I should be looking into for my kids and teenagers?” Our answer is always yes. We tend to think of children as being healthy. We certainly don’t often think about their risk of cardiovascular disease, dementia or stroke when they’re 12.
But maybe we should be. Identifying risk at a young age helps to implement lifestyle strategies that will become second nature to the young person. If we can teach kids the right way to eat, move and how much sleep they need for themselves as individuals they will never need to question what it is they need to feel healthy and vibrant. Furthermore, teaching them before the added pressures of financial independence, work or kids means the habits are there for them when they do have those additional pressures as an adult.
The impact of having a younger generation focussed on precision medicine are far reaching; for individuals, for families and for populations.
The individual learns what they need and can develop health-supportive behaviours they will one day pass on to their kids.
Parents can adjust how they feed and parent their children based on the knowledge they learn. If your child had an increased risk for injury you might choose less physical recreation activities for them. For instance, you may put them in swimming rather than rugby.
If you discovered they had a greatly increased risk for cardiovascular disease, you may choose foods lower in saturated fat and opt for mono unsaturated fats like olive oil and avocado instead. Similarly, you may learn your child has a very low carbohydrate tolerance so you would reduce the amount of processed foods you consume as a family.
Lastly, the ongoing implications of a generation of healthy youth are enormous.
Imagine a world where the majority of our tax-paying demographic were fit and healthy with no chronic health conditions? Imagine a nation’s industry and gross domestic product if all workers were as efficient as possible?
The fact is we are living longer, but not necessarily in great health. So the number of years we are dependant on services like our hospitals, GPs and subsidised medication is hugely draining on our health care system and ultimately costs all of us a lot of money. The healthier we make our future generations the less dependant they are on public health services and the more they can contribute to the workforce.
It’s something we have to aim for as our population ages and we require a vital workforce to support the growing needs for infrastructure and services to support all members of our society.
We need to stop trying to make people well after they are already showing signs of chronic disease. Precision health care is the only true prevention model tailored to the individual.