Cholesterol Health Issues

Cholesterol in Children- A Guide

Many people are of the belief that the problem of cholesterol is witnessed only in people of high age groups. However, this is not true. The problem of high cholesterol can begin early in life. Children who indulge in little physical activity and suffer from risk factors like obesity have high levels of cholesterol at a young age. Children may even have high cholesterol as a result of hereditary factors.

Since children too can be prone to high cholesterol levels, it becomes imperative that preventive measures be taken at the earliest. To ensure that children do not suffer from high cholesterol levels or hypercholesterolaemia, several cholesterol guidelines have been set for children. These guidelines provide an insight into the causes of high cholesterol levels in children and also state the conditions under which children should be screened for cholesterol.

Who set these guidelines?
Every health institution has its own set of guidelines as far as controlling the cholesterol levels in children is concerned. However, the guidelines endorsed by the American Heart Association are the most reliable. These guidelines are set by a twelve member panel comprising of experts in pediatrics, nutrition and heart disease. The national cholesterol education project issued these guidelines.

Cholesterol screening in children

Simply because you suspect your child to have a high cholesterol level, exposing him to cholesterol screening would not really be a great idea. This can expose your child to drug therapy at an early age which may be completely uncalled for.

Children should be screened for cholesterol only under the following circumstances:

* If parent or grandparent suffered from atherosclerosis at the age of or before 55.
* If the cholesterol level of either of the parents exceeds 240.
* If any parent or grandparent had a heart attack at or before the age of 55.

The ideal cholesterol level in children is less than 175 milligrams per tenth liter of the blood. Cholesterol levels anywhere from 175 to 199 call for preventive steps to be taken. Children with cholesterol level higher than 200 need a proper treatment incorporating changes in diet as well as the use of drugs.

Guidelines for diet

Diet is perhaps the most important and common factor that result in high cholesterol levels. It is for this reason that the diet of children with high cholesterol levels should strictly be monitored. The consumption of saturated fat and total fat should be restricted.

While the amount of fat that is being consumed should be cut, fiber consumption should be enhanced. Food like fruits and vegetables, whole grains and legumes should be used to replace fatty foods like butter, cheese and other packaged foods.  This will help bring down the cholesterol level considerably.