MONDAY, Jan. 12, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Adults who had a stable and healthy childhood are more likely to have better heart health, new research suggests.
The study included nearly 1,100 adults, aged 30 to 45, in Finland who were followed from the time they were between the ages of 3 and 18.
The researchers looked at whether the participants had "psychosocial advantages" during childhood, such as being in a family that had good health habits, was financially secure and taught children social skills such as how to control aggressiveness and impulsiveness.
Adults with the most psychosocial advantages in childhood were 14 percent more likely to have a normal weight, 12 percent more likely to be a nonsmoker and 11 percent more likely to have healthy blood sugar levels, all of which are associated with better heart health, according to the report.
The study was published Jan. 12 in the journal Circulation. While the researchers found an association between a happy childhood and better heart health as an adult, it did not prove a cause-and-effect link between the two.
"The choices parents make have a long-lasting effect on their children's future health, and improvement in any one thing can have measurable benefits," senior study author Laura Pulkki-Raback, a research fellow at the University of Helsinki in Finland, said in a journal news release.
"For instance, if an unemployed parent gets steady employment, the effect may be huge. If he or she also quits smoking, the benefit is even greater. All efforts to improve family well-being are beneficial," she added.
"Scientific evidence supports the fact that investing in the well-being of children and families will be cost-effective in the long run because it decreases health care costs at the other end of life (old age) ," Pulkki-Raback said. "The knowledge is out there, and now it is a question of values and priorities."
The U.S. National Institutes of Health outlines how to reduce heart risks.