Many U.S. Kids Have Unhealthy Cholesterol
There may be no such thing as “too young” to worry about cholesterol.
About 20 percent of U.S. children now have problems with their cholesterol levels, such as high levels of “bad” cholesterol or low levels of “good” cholesterol, according to a new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
The high cholesterol levels are more common in children who are obese. Among obese children in the study, 11.6 percent had high total cholesterol levels, compared with 6.3 percent of children whose body weight fell into the normal range.
And girls were more likely to have high cholesterol levels than boys: nearly 9 percent of girls had high total cholesterol levels, compared to about 6 percent of boys.
The most common cholesterol problem in kids was having low levels of “good” cholesterol. Overall, 13.4 percent of children had low HDL cholesterol, but the rate was much higher among obese children.
Not surprisingly, rates of abnormal cholesterol readings rose as kids aged. For example, while slightly more than 6 percent of children aged 6 to 8 had high levels of bad cholesterol, that number nearly doubled – to 12 percent – by the time kids were 16 to 19 years of age, An estimated one-third of U.S. adolescents and children are considered overweight or obese.
Previous studies suggest that risk factors for heart disease, including abnormal cholesterol levels, "track from childhood into adulthood. High cholesterol levels in children are usually treated with lifestyle changes, including weight loss, increased exercise and a healthy diet.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that all children ages 9 to 11 should have their cholesterol levels checked.