After a surge of high cholesterol levels in children and teens caused a ripple of concern in the medical community, youth cholesterol levels are again in the news. This time, however, the reports are favorable. According to a new study, childhood cholesterol levels are improving, albeit slowly. While all progress is positive, there is still more work to do.
Youth cholesterol levels improved over the past decade, according to a new study. The number of children with high cholesterol, or a total cholesterol reading of 200 or greater, dropped by three percentage points. While any amount of progress is great, more still needs to be done. Approximately 7% of kids still have high cholesterol. Learn what you can do to lower your child’s cholesterol levels below!
Lower Your Child’s Cholesterol Levels with These Healthy Habits!
Cholesterol’s Unhealthy Relationship with Teens and Children
In recent decades, the medical community uncovered a disturbing trend. Children and teens were increasingly being diagnosed with conditions that are normally reserved for adults, such as obesity, high cholesterol and diabetes. At one time, a staggering 10% of youth had high cholesterol readings, meaning their total cholesterol reading was above 200.
Concerted Efforts Improved Childhood Cholesterol Readings
Since high cholesterol levels can lead to cardiovascular disease and early death, concerted efforts were made and are still underway to lower youth cholesterol levels. In 2015, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) gave food manufacturers three years to remove trans fats, a major contributor of high cholesterol and heart disease, from all foods. The ban was implemented in 2018.
Additionally, major education campaigns have targeted parents and teenagers with the goal to give them the information they need to lead a healthy lifestyle. Student school lunch programs have also made great strides to improve the nutritional content of the food served.
How to Keep Lowering Child and Adolescent Cholesterol Levels
Parents can keep the cholesterol levels of their children within a healthy range by providing them with foods that are low in total fat, saturated fat and cholesterol. Trading out traditional snacks, such as chips and cookies, for healthy snacks, such as raw vegetables and fruit, will also help. Additionally, parents should limit screen time to two hours or less per day and encourage physical activity.
Children should have their cholesterol checked between the ages of 9 and 11 and again between the ages of 17 and 21. The child’s weight, family history and underlying health conditions should also be taken into consideration. If a child has high cholesterol, it should be checked more often.
Parents can lower youth cholesterol levels by teaching their children healthy habits and modeling healthy behaviors themselves. Medication is an option for children who cannot lower their levels after implementing lifestyle changes. Government regulations and ingredient bans are also working to improve cholesterol levels in children.
~Here’s to Your Healthy Ascension!
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