Kids’ Cholesterol Levels Go Down, Decline In Trans Fat Seen As Major Factor

Kids’ cholesterol levels have gone down in the last 20 years with now just one in 12 children having a high amount, new information released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) showed.

The study looked at total cholesterol, HDL, and LDL counts and triglycerides in more than 16,000 children and teenage patients, reported. The results showed that total kids’ cholesterol levels went down to 8.1 percent from 11.3 percent between 1988 and 2010.

The number of kids with at least one problematic cholesterol number fell to 22.2 percent from 27.2 percent at the start of the study’s range.

“Over the roughly 20-year study period, we found improvements, but almost one in 10 continued to have high totals,” said study author Brian Kit of the CDC.

Kids’ cholesterol levels are caused by a number of factors including genetics and lifestyle choices, which include exercise, diet, and exposure to secondhand smoke, Kit said. Over the 20-year span of the study, there were nationwide decreases in consumption of trans fats and exposure to secondhand smoke, the study noted.

Yet despite the decline in kids’ cholesterol levels, childhood and adolescent obesity somehow increased, Kit said.

“The important message is that while weight status is one factor that contributes to cholesterol levels, there are other things that contribute,” Kit said.

Trans fats are seen as the major reason why kids’ cholesterol fell while obesity levels didn’t budge, the Associated Press reported. Some experts think that kids aren’t necessarily getting more exercise or eating less but are eating fewer trans fats.

“That’s my leading theory,” said Dr. Sarah de Ferranti, director of preventive cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital and author of an editorial that accompanied the study.

The kids’ cholesterol level study will add fuel to a debate stemming from new American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines on cholesterol screenings. The academy recommended that all children between ages 9 and 11 should undergo screenings and then again between ages 17 and 21. Critics say this would be too expensive to the healthcare system.

What do you think about cholesterol screenings for children?