Surprisingly, it turns out that even though childhood obesity is the biggest risk faster, many kids have high cholesterol, even if they are at a healthy weight. A study out of Texas found that one out of every three kids ages 9-11 had high cholesterol. 35% of the kids studied who had a healthy weight still had high cholesterol, while 41% of the obese children had borderline or high cholesterol levels. You would think the cause would overwhelmingly be childhood obesity! So what other factors are at work here? What can cause high cholesterol levels in such young kids other than childhood obesity?
High Cholesterol in Kids Not Just Caused by Childhood Obesity
One of the risk factors, other than childhood obesity, is kids being involved in over two hours of screen time per day. Studies show that kids who spend an excessive amount of time on TV, computers, and devices tend to eat more junk food. They even average one extra snack per day than children who don’t spend as much screen time. This raises their risk of cardiovascular disease.
Boys are also more at risk. They are more likely to have high cholesterol than girls. They have higher levels of LDL (bad) cholesterol as well as triglycerides (blood fats). Strangely, girls are more likely to have higher than normal levels of HDL (good) cholesterol.
What can you as a parent do? Make sure your children live active lives, with plenty of time away from screens, exercising or spending time outdoors. Check out some of these ideas for family fitness activities that also help the environment.
Have healthy snacks available in the fridge and in the cupboard, ready to eat. Check out some healthy snack ideas for your child’s lunch box as well. Be a good example and let your child see you eating healthy fruits and vegetables on a regular basis. You don’t need to banish all junk food, but make sure junk food is a treat, and healthy food is the normal, everyday kind of snack.
High cholesterol in children is very concerning, because up to about 70% of kids with high cholesterol will continue to have high cholesterol in adulthood. The cholesterol levels a child has around age 9 are reflective of the levels they will have in middle age. So, watch for risk factors in your child and help prevent high cholesterol levels in adulthood.
Are you surprised to hear that children as young as 9 can have high cholesterol levels? What do you do to help your child eat healthy and be active?