CHICAGO (AP) – Cholesterol levels in American children and adolescents have fallen, according to recent studies, but in only half of the cases they are reduced to the indications considered ideal.
In studies conducted between 2009 and 2016, 7% of children had high cholesterol, compared with 10% in the previous decade. Children 200 or more are considered high cholesterol. Ideal levels are below 170.
Impact on health
Researchers say the results may reflect the rate of childhood obesity, which remains high, countered by the fact that children consume fewer snacks that contain trans fatty acids. Manufacturers began eliminating them before the United States passed its ban in 2018.
The analysis is based on official studies conducted from 1999 to 2016 with 26,000 children aged 6 to 19 undergoing home interviews, physical examinations and laboratory tests.
About one in four teens and one in five children show unhealthy levels of fat in the blood, such as cholesterol and triglycerides.
High cholesterol in childhood can cause changes that cause narrowing of the blood vessels, said Dr. Amanda Perak, lead author of the study and cardiologist at the Lurie Pediatric Hospital in Chicago. These changes pose a risk of seizures and other heart problems in adulthood.
In most cases, children can lower cholesterol levels with healthier habits: eat more fruits, vegetables and whole grains, less processed foods, and exercise more, Perrak said.
"Life helps in the majority of cases," he said.
Obesity contributes to high cholesterol levels, but they have not changed in children and adults in the United States. In 2015-16, 21% of adolescents, 18% of children aged 6 to 11 and 40% of adults are overweight, according to the latest data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.