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Children and High Cholesterol

  • High cholesterol can affect children as well as adults
  • A total cholesterol levels that are over 170 need to be lowered and will increase the risks of health problems
  • All children should have their cholesterol checked by the time they are 10 years old

This article was inspired by a comment of one of our readers who requested to write an article about high cholesterol issue in kids. High cholesterol is a medical condition that can strike anyone, and the fact that this condition can affect children may come as a surprise to most parents. When you think of high cholesterol you normally think of a middle aged man or woman who is overweight and who has a high fat diet. In the United States today though, high cholesterol is a hidden health threat for children as well, especially with childhood obesity on the rise and becoming a big health to the children in this country. How can you tell what a normal level of cholesterol is for your child, and what should you do if you determine your child has high levels of cholesterol, or other sterols in their blood? What causes this problem in children?

High cholesterol is dangerous, even for children. This can lead to increased risks for strokes, heart attacks, and blocked arteries and veins as your child gets older. High cholesterol is caused by a combination of several factors in children. Heredity plays a big part in determining whether your child will have high cholesterol. If you or your spouse have high cholesterol, the odds are good that your child may develop this problem as well. The diet your child eats can also prevent or contribute to high cholesterol. If your child is obese this is another factor that can increase their risk for cholesterol levels which can become dangerously high. A simple and easy blood test can be done to determine your child’s cholesterol level, and this will help you and your child’s doctor to determine what steps if any need to be done to lower these levels.

When your child is tested for high cholesterol, it is important that you understand what the numbers mean. Your child should be screened at least once before age ten, but not before age two. An acceptable cholesterol level for children is a total cholesterol level of less than one hundred and seventy, and an LDL cholesterol lower than one hundred and ten. If the test results are normal for your child, you should have them tested every three years. If the levels are from one hundred and seventy to one hundred and ninety nine for total cholesterol, and from one hundred and ten to one hundred and twenty nine for LDL cholesterol, this is borderline and needs to be lowered as much as possible because of the higher risks involved. If your child’s total cholesterol is at least two hundred or their LDL cholesterol level is one hundred and thirty or more, this is high and can become dangerous if not treated. If diet and exercise does not work to lower these numbers, your child may end up taking a cholesterol lowering drug as long as they are at least eight years old.

A healthy nutritious diet full of low fat foods and plenty of exercise are the keys to lowering the cholesterol level of your child. Include a lot of fruits and vegetables in the meals you make, because these foods have very little fat and sterols, including cholesterol. Beans are a great protein source that has a lot of fiber and very little cholesterol. Avoid full fat dairy foods, and instead use skim milk and low fat cheeses and other dairy products. Add a lot of whole grains to your diet, such as cereal, bread, rolls, and other whole grain products. These foods are also low in cholesterol, and can actually help fight the bad kind in your body. Make sure that your child gets plenty of exercise, with at least some of it in the form of aerobic exercise. This also helps to lower cholesterol numbers and will keep your child healthy. Get active with them, and the whole family will benefit from a healthier diet and lots of exercise while spending quality family time together.

The information supplied in this article is not to be considered as medical advice and is for educational purposes only.

3 Responses to “Children and High Cholesterol”

  1. 1
    Prof Nutralegacy Says:
    Dear Robyne, Your question suggests a complex issue. First, you did not mention your daughter's other readings such as HDL, LDL, triglycerides, etc. This is important to know as these readings are as important or even more important than total cholesterol. Assuming that she has a naturally difficult time in regulating blood lipids, even with good diet and exercise, then you might consider seeing a nutritionist or natural healer. There are many nutritional supplements that might help her, including several multiple componet products that are specifically formulated to help the body balance blood fats. At age 17, she is certainly old enough to take supplements. Of course it would be wise to do this while at the same time getting advice from her personal physician. You need to make sure there are no underlying conditions that would cause her to have elevated cholesterol. Regarding natural compounds that are available for promoting healthy cholesterol levels, these include fish oil caps with Omega fatty acids, policosanol, guggulsterones, added soluble fiber, and herbs to help liver and gall bladder function. Remember that your body produces cholesterol daily as it is required for several functions. Please let me know an update on her status. In Good Health, Meredith
  2. 2
    Robyne Says:
    All great advice but what can cause elevated cholesterol (6.9) in a healthy active 17 year old girl. She rarely eats junk food and has a healthier diet and exercise regime than either her father or myself. However his is 4.9 at 50 years of age and mine is 5.0 at 45.I am really worried and can't get any answers!!!
  3. 3
    Elizabeth Says:
    While this a great concept and I agree that children should be tested as well - face it they gorw up too fast anyway - I have to wonder how many doctors will look at parents like they have two heads for asking for a cholesterol screening for their ten year old.