The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute recommends that a child’s first cholesterol check should occur between ages 9 and 11. The test should be repeated between ages 17 and 21. The American Academy of Pediatrics endorsed the guideline. Lowering risk in childhood has profound benefits through life.
- Obesity, followed by elevated cholesterol and blood pressure are the greatest risk factors
- 17% of all children are now obese which is triple the level just 30 years ago.
The diet and lifestyle recommendations that are graded A include:
- Fat should be limited to 25-30% of calories
- Saturated fat should be limited to 7-10% of calories.
- Keep cholesterol to less than 300 mg per day.
- Drink fat-free milk after age 2.
- Eat plant foods and more whole grains which are all high in fiber. Increase fruits and vegetables.
- Exercise 30-60 minutes every day plus match calories consumed.
- See a dietitian for ongoing nutrition counseling if cholesterol is too high.
Other recommendations, which received lower than an A, but may also help include 5g plus age for fiber, getting enough Vitamin D, keeping blood pressure in check with sodium reduction, lowering sugar consumed especially in beverages, use 100% juice and limit to 4 ounces per day and follow the DASH diet.
For more information, see:
ChooseMyPlate.gov - there is a new kids MyPlate poster.
Stephanie Ronco has been editing for Food and Health Communications since 2011. She graduated from Colorado College magna cum laude with distinction in Comparative Literature. She was elected a member of Phi Beta Kappa in 2008.