One-fifth of U.S. teens have unhealthy cholesterol

WASHINGTON Fri Jan 22, 2010 7:57am EST

Pedestrians wait to walk across a street near Times Square in New York August 28, 2007. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson

Pedestrians wait to walk across a street near Times Square in New York August 28, 2007.

Credit: Reuters/Lucas Jackson

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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - One in five American teens has unhealthy cholesterol levels, a major risk factor for heart disease in adults, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Thursday.

The heavier teens were, the more likely they were to have high cholesterol but even 14 percent of teens with normal body weight were found to have unhealthy cholesterol levels, the CDC said.

CDC researchers studied data on 3,125 teens collected from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1999 through 2006.

They found that 20.3 percent of young people aged 12 to 19 and more boys than girls had unhealthy cholesterol levels.

The study found that, based on American Academy of Pediatrics guidelines, a third of teens would be eligible for cholesterol screening based solely on being overweight or obese.

The AAP also recommends screening for young people who have a family history of high cholesterol or premature heart disease.

The researchers analyzed measurements of low-density lipoprotein -- LDL or so-called bad cholesterol; high-density lipoprotein, the HDL or "good," cholesterol; and triglycerides.

Bad cholesterol can help clog arteries while good cholesterol carries away the bad stuff. People should aim for low LDL and triglycerides and high HDL.

Ashleigh May of the CDC, who led the study, said the results were "very concerning."

"It's a large proportion of the youth that have at least one abnormal lipid level. That is concerning given the long term implications for heart disease," May said in a telephone interview.

Unhealthy cholesterol levels, which often begin during childhood and adolescence, are a big risk factor in heart disease, the No. 1 cause of death among adults in the United States.

"We really want to make sure that clinicians are aware of lipid screening guidelines and lifestyle interventions that are recommended, for youth, especially overweight and obese youth," May said.

"For all youth, healthy eating habits and physical activity are good ways to reduce their risk for abnormal lipids and heart disease in the long term."

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

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Comments (5)
GratefulEd wrote:
Two things, first YES the freakin kids are fat! Some parents the boomers have turned out to be and their kids, who are having kids now are abominable! Oh and I’m a boomer myself with three kids who eat well. Time for we FOOLS to wake up and stop defining every waking minute by how much were making or what we have or dreaming about how extravagant we want our lives to be.
SECOND, as a child of a medical scientist I will ask, who knows what the “right ” cholesterol is? The statistics are not definitive and many people live into their 80s with over 300 numbers. Most disturbing is that Lipitor has been PROVEN to be a fake that does not work. Just about every one of my peers takes it for their “high” cholesterol and apparently they are not suffering more or less. Is the scare of cholesterol drummed up to begin with?
So regardless, I totally agree that the parents need to wake the F up, being fat is not healthy for LOTS of reasons, and it is the parents who need to do it. Hopefully when the economy tanks totally there just won’t be all this extra money to give to the kids for video games, MickeyDs, etc etc etc and lo and behold the generations of kids just won’t be that fat, or as lazy or as weak and stupid!

Jan 22, 2010 9:24am EST  --  Report as abuse
Peak_Phil wrote:
I have a significant number of obese people in my family that started out looking just like those kids in the picture.

The correct and simple solution:

Pass legislation that requires the surgeon general to place warnings on the wrappers and boxes of fast food. Plain and simple.

If they can warn smokers of cancer, stroke and heart disease or women of pregnancy risk when drinking then there is no reason the children of America cannot be warned. Follow up with a required healthy food/exercise class in every school and these kids will have a fighting change for a better lifestyle.

High cholesterol is just the beginning of a lifetime of problems for these kids.

Jan 22, 2010 11:03am EST  --  Report as abuse
arthomps wrote:
Diet and exercise are two areas where our children (and adults) are increasingly lacking. Changes require the will to develop heart-healthy habits.

Pulse, developed by Monavie, makes a heart-healthy diet easy. Specially formulated with 19 fruits from around the globe, this delicious blend delivers powerful antioxidants to nutritionally support the cardiovascular system. With added heart benefits derived from plant sterols, (which studies suggest play a key factor in lowering cholesterol) and resveratrol, maintaining healthy cholesterol levels has never been easier.

Jan 22, 2010 11:22am EST  --  Report as abuse
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