Gone are the days when high cholesterol was something that only affected adults. Today, even young children are facing the negative health consequences of too much blood cholesterol. While the hypercholesterolemia guidelines establish healthy levels of blood cholesterol for everyone, parents should be aware of the causes of high cholesterol in children.
Blood cholesterol is essential for supporting human life. Simply put, it is a waxy fat produced by the liver that the body uses to form parts of cells. When cholesterol is at acceptable levels, it doesn’t have negative health consequences. If too much of it accumulates in the blood, though, people can develop heart disease and other ailments. Because high cholesterol, or hypercholesterolemia, can take years to harm the body, parents must look to its causes early to help combat its negative health effects. Generally, children develop unacceptably high cholesterol due to three factors.
There is no question that obesity has become a problem in virtually every segment of society. Like with other age groups, for children, expanding waist sizes contribute to high levels of blood cholesterol. With kids, obesity is typically the result of two factors. First, a high-calorie diet can cause youngsters to put on weight. Then, lack of physical activity can make shedding pounds difficult. Eventually, excess weight contributes to the accumulation of cholesterol in the blood. As you might suspect, then, losing weight is an effective way to begin to combat high cholesterol.
While the body’s liver naturally produces cholesterol, certain foods contain it as well. If children eat a diet that is high in cholesterol-rich foods, excess amounts can accumulate in their blood. While grains, fruits, and vegetables typically contain no cholesterol, animal-based foods can have a significant amount of it. In particular, red meat, dairy products, and egg yolks are common causes of high cholesterol in children. Further, if a child eats a diet high in saturated and trans-fats, he or she is apt to develop hypercholesterolemia. On the other hand, certain foods block the body’s ability to absorb cholesterol, helping those with high levels to bring them down. Barley, apples, eggplants, beans, and grapes are superfoods when it comes to battling high cholesterol.
If high cholesterol were entirely due to environmental factors, it would probably be easier to fight. Unfortunately, genetics plays a significant role in establishing a person’s cholesterol levels. If you wonder if your child has hypercholesterolemia, you might consider your own test numbers. In fact, if a parent has high cholesterol levels, a child is up to twice as likely to have them as well. While you can’t change your child’s genetics, you can use information to battle the environmental factors that contribute to high levels of blood cholesterol. Given the negative health consequences of hypercholesterolemia, you likely want to do everything you can to put your child on the right path despite any genetic predisposition he or she might have inherited from you or your spouse.
Every parent should understand the causes of high cholesterol in children. Because of the devastating health effects associated with hypercholesterolemia, if your child is in a high-risk group, you probably want to seek medical intervention.