Know The Causes And Symptoms For High Cholesterol In Kids !

By Ishana Deb, Contributing Writer
April 11, 2017
What Causes and Symptoms for High Cholesterol in Kids

From a hunter-and-gatherer style of living to today’s urban corporate way of life, man has been consistently nurturing a pragmatic relationship with food. The wheat that he grew himself to put on his dinner plate has now been turned into flavor-infused bread accompanied by synthetic meat and sugary concoctions.

The gradual transformation in food norms persisting through the ages has led to a serious imbalance in our health and that of our surrounding environment. One such consequence is high cholesterol.

The 21st-century sedentary lifestyle has led to the widespread prevalence of high cholesterol in children, with obesity often being a direct precursor to the disease.

A report on “Childhood Obesity: The Indian Perspective” released by the Center for Nutrition & Metabolic Research (C-NET), Diabetes Foundation (India) stated that the average prevalence of obesity in children in Indian schools is 32.6 % for children aged 14 years, 29.9 % for those 15-years-old, 25.1% for those aged 16 years and 25.3 % for 17-year-olds.

What is high cholesterol?

In medical terms, the dangers of cholesterol lie in the increase in the amount of Low-Density Lipoprotein (LDL) in the body. The liver naturally produces High-Density Lipoprotein (HDL) every day for maintenance of bodily processes. What causes high cholesterol in kids is the consumption of large amounts of food rich in fats.

What is high cholesterol

Increased levels of LDL in the blood eventually lead to its deposition on the walls of the arteries in the form of plaque. As time goes on, the plaque thickens and hardens, causing the passage of the artery to become narrower. This causes a restriction in the flow of blood.

Prolonged amplification of the levels of LDL can lead to serious issues like high blood pressure, heart disease, cardiac arrest and stroke.

Causes of high cholesterol in a child

There are three primary reasons for the development of high levels of cholesterol in a child.

  • Heredity

    It has been found that children with a parent, grandparent or other direct relative diagnosed with elevated cholesterol have very high chances of developing the same. Diseases related to the lifestyle of the patient usually run in the family. This can also be attributed to family traditions and food habits passed through the generations.

    Constant lethargy, weight gain and shortness of breath even during minor exercise are a few common signs of high LDL in the body. If you or any of your family members have been diagnosed with high cholesterol, then it is suggested that you take your child for a checkup.
  • Diet

    Most health and fitness experts across the world agree that the food you eat is 70% responsible for the well-being of your body. What causes high cholesterol in a child is a combination of an extremely unhealthy diet and an inactive daily routine. Regular consumption of fatty food and drinks filled with processed sugars are the prime offenders in the development of the condition.

    It is important for families to adopt healthy eating habits at home in order to facilitate a positive lifestyle change for children.
  • Obesity

    Obesity is a rapidly growing concern among children across the globe. The increasing rate of heart disease in children is directly related, in turn shortening the average lifespan of the populace. Understanding what is causing high cholesterol in a particular child can help parents and caregivers to effectuate a shift towards the betterment of his health.

Kids should be regularly encouraged to participate in sporting activities at school as well as regular physical activity outside of school. In addition to maintaining healthy levels of cholesterol, sports and other activities can also help in the development of children’s social skills, confidence and overall physical and mental well-being.

How to detect high LDL in my child?

An article published by Web MD stated that cholesterol levels in children should be tested for the first time between the ages of 9 and 11 years, and for a second time between the ages of 17 and 21 years. It further stated that children of any age with a higher Body Mass Index (BMI) than the 95th percentile of their age group should also be examined for high levels of LDL.

If your child is overweight, or has a family history of high cholesterol, then you must make an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible. Early diagnosis and treatment is the best route to restoring health and establishing long-term well-being.

foods cause high cholesterol

Food causing high cholesterol

One of the major causes of elevated LDL in the blood is a diet rich in saturated and trans fats. These compounds are extremely difficult to break down inside the body and are easily deposited as plaque. A few examples of foods with “bad fats” include

  • Fried starchy chips and crisps
  • Fried cheese
  • Refined oils and sugars
  • Cheese burgers
  • Instant noodles
  • Cream filled cookies
  • Whipped cream
  • Mayonnaise
  • High fat dairy products

While trying to plan a healthy diet for your child, it is important to get a thorough idea of what foods can lead to high cholesterol. Replacing the harmful compounds with healthier options can do wonders for the body.

If your child is diagnosed with high cholesterol, then it is necessary to heed the suggestions of the consulting doctor as well as a government certified nutritionist before making any change in their diet plan and daily routine.

Listed below are a few healthy swaps in place of the above-mentioned food items.

  • Fibrous sources of starch like oats, millet, rice and quinoa
  • Green leafy vegetables
  • Cruciferous foods like cabbage and kale
  • Seasonal fruit
  • Skimmed milk
  • Dark chocolate (amount as directed by nutritionist)
  • Baked chips (recommended occasionally)

In addition, children should be encouraged to drink at least 8 glasses of water a day. It is also important to note that excess carbohydrates in food are converted to cholesterol by the liver. Foods containing refined sugar, like cookies, cake and soft drinks should be avoided.

A drastic change in a child’s diet plan overnight can cause them to feel deprived of their favorite things, making the diet more challenging for the family to adhere to. Try to look up recipes that allow you to present healthier foods in the tastiest way possible. Remember, a slow and steady pace makes for lasting change that can transform your child’s lifestyle for the better.

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