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Ways to Prevent High Cholesterol in Your Children

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Updated December 19, 2012

Ways to Prevent High Cholesterol in Your Children

Children and Cholesterol

Nate Maxfield, Istockphoto
The trend of children with high cholesterol is becoming more common, and the most common culprit is childhood obesity. By making some minor adjustments in your child's life, you could prevent your child's cholesterol levels from getting out of hand.

Childhood obesity is becoming a growing, yet disturbing trend in the United States. Let’s face it, with the rising popularity of computer games and television shows, more children are opting for sitting on the couch than playing games outside. With obesity, there are often other health conditions that can coincide with it, including high cholesterol levels. In fact, high cholesterol is being noted in the youngest of our population more than ever before. The good news is that whether your child has just been diagnosed with high cholesterol levels — or you just want to prevent it from happening — there are ways that you can help:

  • If your child is older than the age of 2, make sure that your child consumes a diet that is low in saturated fat. This means reducing the amount of fast foods and junk foods they eat. Lean meats, fruits, vegetables and whole grains are healthy choices for your child; they are low in fat and contain a lot of nutrients your child needs for growth.

    The amount of saturated fat that your child consumes should be less than 10% of his or her total calories. If your child is at a high risk (for instance, if they have been diagnosed with a condition, such as familial hypercholesterolemia), the amount of saturated fat consumed by your child should be no more than 7% of their daily caloric intake.

  • Limit your child’s “tube time." Instead of your child sitting in front of the TV or computer, encourage your child to play outdoors. Exercise has a variety of healthy benefits for your child, including keeping their cholesterol levels within normal levels. You may even want to put on your tennis shoes and join your child — exercise is healthy for adults too.
  • Substitute healthy snacks for unhealthy ones. Make sure that you have plenty of fruits and vegetables on hand for your child to snack on. These are excellent choices to substitute the chips, cookies or other junk foods that they may snack on. While it’s true that junk foods are often easier to obtain, adding healthier alternatives to your child’s daily meals will lead to lower cholesterol levels, a healthier weight and the likelihood that they will make healthier foods choices later on in life.

Sources:

Daniels SR, Greer FR et al. Lipid screening and cardiovascular health in childhood. Pediatrics 2008; 122:198-208.

Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (PDF), July 2004, The National Institutes of Heath: The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

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