Cholesterol and Children
What was once considered a problem only suffered by
adults has become a new concern for children. With the
noticeable increase in childhood obesity the medical
profession is claiming that there has been a dangerous
rise in cardiovascular disease, especially among those
children who have obese parents diagnosed with
diabetes, high blood pressure or heart disease.
What is Cholesterol?
A lipid, or fat, in the blood stream, cholesterol is a waxy
substance produced by the liver and used by the body
to make hormones and cell membranes. This means
that cholesterol is naturally in the body regardless of
what you eat, as your body produces about 1,000
milligrams of cholesterol each day.
All other cholesterol in our system comes from the
foods we eat, such as egg yolks, meat, poultry, seafood
and dairy products (i.e. milk, cheese and ice cream).
Good Cholesterol vs Bad Cholesterol
There are two kinds of lipoproteins – low-density
lipoprotein (LDL) or “bad cholesterol”, and high-density
lipoprotein (HDL) or “good cholesterol”. LDL are the
primary cholesterol carriers, but if there’s too much in
the blood stream they begin to clump and build up on
the walls of the arteries that lead to the heart and the
HDL carry cholesterol away from the arteries and back
to the liver, where it’s processed and sent out of the
body. While high levels of bad cholesterol increase the
risk for serious health complications the good
cholesterol counteracts that risk by helping protect the
According to the National Cholesterol Education
Program (NECP) the following are the typical
guidelines for children and adolescents:
- LDL less than 110 mg/dL
- Total cholesterol level of less than 170 mg/dL
- LDL over 130 mg/dL or greater is high and a
These children are typically placed on dietary and
exercise regimens, but if this does not make a change
within 3 to 6 months then the American Academy of
Pediatrics recommends that children as young as 8 be
placed on statins or cholesterol lowering medications.
The Problem with the Science
Back in 2004 the NECP set a new norm in the
acceptable levels of LDL for those they considered at
“high risk”. The new guidelines that were accepted and
endorsed by the American Heart Association advise
that LDL cholesterol should be below 70 mg/dL for
those in specific categories.
This is a 30 percent downward revision from the
guidelines that were already lowered in 2001 (to 100
mg/dL) and is expected to add a “few million” to the
more than 40 million users of cholesterol-lowering
The studies have obviously shown a direct link between
lower levels of LDL and a lower risk of heart attacks but
consumer groups have pointed out that the new
guidelines are tainted by the influence of U.S.
pharmaceutical companies, which share in a $26 billion
market for these chemicals.
These same consumer groups have pointed out that
eight of the nine cholesterol experts received consulting
or speaking fees, at one time or another, from
manufacturers of anti-cholesterol drugs. While
attempting to inform the public of this fact would have
been acceptable, few have done so.
To be continued…