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Kids and Cholesterol: What You Need to Know | Families

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Kids and Cholesterol: What You Need to Know
Families, Health, Schools
Kids and Cholesterol: What You Need to Know

 

                        

Kids and Cholesterol: What You Need to Know

Recently, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services shocked parents around the country when they issued new guidelines regarding children and cholesterol. Their recommendations, joined by those of The National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, outline guidelines that suggest all children between the ages of 9 and 11 should have their cholesterol levels checked. The move, which came about because children today are being seen with abnormal cholesterol levels and even the beginning stages of artherosclerosis, has left many parents seeking answers to their questions.

“It is a big change, because formerly the recommendation was only for those who had a family history of high cholesterol,” explains Dr. Pamela McCullough, a pediatric nurse practitioner and the director of the nursing program at Stratford University’s Woodbridge campus (www.stratford.edu). “This should be seen by many parents as a sign of our times and what is going on with the lifestyles we are raising our children to lead. It is also a great time for families to learn all they can, and to make changes in order to live a healthy lifestyle.”

The two most important things that parents need to know in order to address this issue are 1) to learn all they can about cholesterol, and 2) to make healthy lifestyle changes. Cholesterol is a waxy substance that is produced in the body’s liver. While the substance is important to cell function, having too much of it can lead to a narrowing of the arteries, as it builds up inside the body. In addition to the cholesterol our body makes, we end up getting more of it through our diet and lifestyle choices.

The first thing families will want to do is focus on eating a healthy diet. This will help reverse and prevent obesity, which should also lead to a reduction in cholesterol levels. Dietary cholesterol is found in animal-based foods, such as meat, seafood, eggs, and dairy products. Focusing the family diet on healthy meals that include minimal amounts of animal products is ideal. The goal is to eat a lot of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-cholesterol sources of protein (e.g., beans, tofu, nuts, lentils, etc.).

Additionally, families are advised to increase their child’s activity level. Today, children often spend more time engaged in sedentary forms of electronic entertainment than they do in physical activity. Parents should aim for their children to get at least one hour of physical activity per day, which includes such things as running, brisk walking, playing sports, bike riding, etc.

“This is a serious issue for parents to be aware of, because high cholesterol problems in a child today can lead to major problems as an adult,” adds Dr. McCullough. “The sooner parents help their children to be in control by living a healthy lifestyle, the better off they will be. Once you focus on making these healthy lifestyle choices, the rest usually falls into place.”

Stratford University offers a variety of degrees, including a bachelor’s degree in nursing, as well as degrees in health sciences, such as EKG-phlebotomy, healthcare administration, pharmacy technician, and medical assisting. In addition, they offer degrees in culinary arts, computer information systems, hotel and restaurant management, and hospitality management.  

About Stratford University:

Stratford University operates campuses in Tysons Corner, Richmond, and Woodbridge. It offers 35 undergraduate and graduate degrees in the areas of Culinary Arts and Hospitality, Health Sciences, Business Administration, and Information Technology. The degree programs are offered both on campus, as well as online. For more information on Stratford University, please visit www.stratford.edu.

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Sources:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How much physical activity do children need? <http://www.cdc.gov/physicalactivity/everyone/guidelines/children.html>

Fox News. Cholesterol and heart disease in children on the rise. November 18, 2011. <http://www.foxnews.com/health/2011/11/18/cholesterol-and-heart-disease-in-children-on-rise/>

U.S. Department of Health & Human Services. New guidelines urge cholesterol check for all kids ages 9 to 11. November 11, 2011. <http://healthfinder.gov/news/newsstory.aspx?docID=658850>

 

Families, Health, Schools