Cholesterol Levels in Children Research Note
By Reader's Digest Editors
A brief digest about this topic
Most children and teens don’t need cholesterol checks. But experts recommend them for kids with a parent whose total cholesterol is over 240; with a family history of early heart disease; who are overweight or obese; or have diabetes or high blood pressure. Cut-offs for healthy cholesterol levels are different in kids than in adults. According to the federal government, total cholesterol levels in children and teens should be below 170; 170-199 is borderline high; over 200 is high. Acceptable levels of heart-threatening LDLs in this age group are below 110; borderline high is 110-129; over 130 is considered high. High levels raise a child’s risk for heart disease later in life.Fast Facts:
- Kids with healthy, normal cholesterol levels should be rechecked every 3 to 6 years.
- If levels are high, have your child retested three to six months after your family has instituted healthy lifestyle changes.
- Start by serving a healthy diet featuring more fruit, vegetables and whole grains, and less fast food and saturated fat.
- Help kids and teens get 30 to 60 minutes of physical activity—sports, a family walk and/or active fun—every day.
- Most kids won’t need medication, but doctors consider it with total cholesterol over 190 when diet and exercise aren’t helping.
kidshealth.org — “Most parents probably don't think about what cholesterol means for their kids. But some experts think that high cholesterol in kids is an under-reported public health problem.” View full resource at kidshealth.org
americanheart.org — “There is compelling evidence that the atherosclerotic process begins in childhood and progresses slowly into adulthood. Then it often leads to coronary heart disease, the major cause of death in the United States.” View full resource at americanheart.org
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