24-Hour Crisis Hotline: (877)SAFEGBC or (877)723-3422 Mental Health & Substance Abuse Issues

6502 Nursery Drive, Suite 100
Victoria, TX 77904
(361)575-0611
(800)421-8825
Fax: (361)578-5500

Medical Disorders
Resources
Basic InformationLookupsLatest News
Are Disinfectants Putting Nurses at Risk of COPD?Fat Collects in Lungs, Raising Asthma RiskDrug Limits Damage of Brain InjuryMore Patients With Heart Disease Die at Home Than in HospitalYour Noisy Knees May Be Trying to Tell You SomethingHealth Tip: 10 Ways to Reduce Injury RiskIs That Statin Doing You Any Good?Surgery Helps Tough-to-Treat Acid RefluxBrain Damage From Concussion Evident a Year LaterFor Kids With Genetic Condition, Statins May Be LifesaversNext-Gen Artificial Pancreas Boosts Blood Sugar ControlAHA News: Lowering Blood Pressure May Prevent New Brain Lesions in Older PeopleBladder Drug Can Cause Eye Damage: StudyGood News, Bad News on Concussions in High School SportsSteroid Shots for Painful Joints May Make Matters WorseHealth Tip: Broken Toe CareSleep Apnea Linked to Diabetic Eye DiseaseChildhood Risk Factors Can Predict Adult ObesityHealth Tip: Gum Disease Risk FactorsPut Safety First When Planning to Pack Food-to-GoA Parent's Guide to Managing Kids' Asthma During the FallWhat Foods Are Most Likely to Cause Acne Breakouts?Vision Problems Strike More Than 2 Billion GloballyLight Smoking Causes More Lung Damage Than Once Suspected: StudyHealth Tip: Choking First AidBy Mid-Century, Heat Waves Could Cover Far Bigger AreasGet Vaccinated Before Flu Takes Hold: CDCClose to 1,300 Cases of Vaping-Linked Illness Now IdentifiedMore Years of Football, Higher Odds for Brain Disease LaterPain Relief: When to Use Cold, When to Use HeatAHA News: High Triglycerides Caused a Diet Change – at Age 10Humans May Possess Ability to Regrow CartilageHealth Tip: Recognizing Bedbug Bites'Smartphone Slouching' More Serious Than It SoundsAHA News: What's Your Sense of Purpose? The Answer May Affect Your HealthDeep Brain Stimulation May Relieve Ringing in the Ears: StudyWhat Are the Risks of Pain Relief Alternatives to Opioids?Many ICU Admissions May Be Preventable, Large Study SuggestsCause of Paralyzing Illness in Kids Remains ElusiveFlu Season Is Coming: Here's How to Protect YourselfSinus Infections: What You Need to KnowFewer Teeth, Higher Risk of Heart Disease?Fungal Invasion May Drive Some Pancreatic CancersHealth Tip: Lowering Your Resting Heart RateYour Washer Might Be Breeding Drug-Resistant GermsCan Your Eating Habits Keep Alzheimer's at Bay?Prescription Opioids Linked to Poor Outcomes in Kidney PatientsCases of Serious Vaping-Linked Lung Injury Now Top 1,000Organic Chicken Less Likely to Harbor a Dangerous 'Superbug'Running the Numbers on High Blood Pressure
Questions and AnswersLinks
Related Topics

Diabetes

Cholesterol Levels Improving Among U.S. Kids

HealthDay News
by By Amy Norton
HealthDay Reporter
Updated: May 21st 2019

new article illustration

TUESDAY, May 21, 2019 (HealthDay News) -- Despite an epidemic of childhood obesity, the cholesterol levels of American kids have been improving over the past 20 years, a new study shows.

Researchers found that since 1999, levels of "bad" LDL cholesterol among U.S. children and teens have declined, while levels of "good" HDL cholesterol have risen.

That's the good news, researchers report in the May 21 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The bad news: Only about half of kids had "ideal" cholesterol levels.

Meanwhile, one-quarter of teenagers and about 15% of children had unhealthy levels.

Why do cholesterol levels in kids matter? Research has shown that unhealthy levels in childhood might have consequences later in life, according to Dr. Amanda Perak, lead researcher on the study.

"In adulthood, high LDL cholesterol is a key driver of atherosclerosis," said Perak, a pediatric cardiologist at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago. "But it's been shown that the atherosclerosis process can begin in childhood."

Atherosclerosis is the buildup of "plaques" in the arteries. Those deposits -- made up of cholesterol, calcium and other substances -- cause the arteries to narrow and harden, eventually impeding blood flow. If a plaque ruptures, it may block an artery and cause a heart attack or stroke.

Perak said it's encouraging that kids' cholesterol levels are improving, but the reasons are unclear.

On one hand, the positive trend is surprising because childhood obesity has risen since 1999, and obesity is one factor that can raise cholesterol levels.

Perak speculated that some changes in diet -- such as the removal of trans fats from many processed foods -- might have played a role. (Trans fats increase LDL and lower HDL cholesterol.)

Dr. Luis Gonzalez-Mendoza is director of endocrinology at Nicklaus Children's Hospital in Miami. He also suspects diet factors underlie the improvements.

"My guess is it's related to nutrition labeling on foods. More people are reading labels and being conscious of what they're putting into their bodies," said Gonzalez-Mendoza, who was not involved in the study.

Whatever the reasons, he added, the findings show that "something positive is going on."

The results are based on data from an ongoing U.S. government health study, for the years 1999 through 2016. It involved more than 26,000 6- to 19-year-olds.

On average, Perak's team found, kids' total cholesterol levels declined by 9 points between 1999 and 2016 -- from 164 mg/dL, to 155 mg/dL. (Levels above 200 are considered high; anything below 170 is normal.)

Meanwhile, average levels of good cholesterol rose a few points, to 55 mg/dL -- with HDL levels above 45 mg/dL considered normal. And among teenagers, average LDL dipped from 92 mg/dL, to 86 mg/dL. An LDL under 110 is considered normal. (There were no LDL measurements for younger kids.)

Despite the improvements, only 51% of kids had all of their cholesterol numbers in the normal range, the study found. Perak said that's a concern, given how young they are.

"We want to maintain ideal health for as long as possible," she noted.

Why do some kids develop high cholesterol?

In most cases, Perak said, it's the usual culprits: poor diet, lack of exercise and unhealthy weight. A small number of kids may have an underlying medical condition, such as kidney disease or an underactive thyroid gland, she added.

Since lifestyle factors are usually the cause, treatment centers on diet, exercise and weight loss, too, according to Gonzalez-Mendoza. He said a healthy diet focused on whole foods is key, rather than any special "cholesterol" diet.

Perak agreed. "When it comes to diet," she said, "focus on 'real' foods -- fruits and vegetables, whole grains, beans, lean meat."

That, she noted, is the way to not only treat unhealthy cholesterol, but also to prevent it.

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends cholesterol screening for all kids between the ages of 9 and 11.

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more on kids' cholesterol levels.