A federal health report says 20% of U.S. children and teens have abnormal lipid levels, an indication of too much bad cholesterol, too little good cholesterol or high triglycerides. These abnormal levels can raise the risk for heart disease which is the leading cause of death in the United States.
Reseachers have found that children and teens who are overweight or obese are more likely to have abnormal cholesterol levels compared with youths who were normal weight.
In fact, 22 percent of overweight children and teens and 43 percent of obese children and teens had abnormal lipid levels, compared with 14 percent of their normal weight counterparts.
The researchers also found:
- 24 percent of boys and 16 percent of girls had at least one abnormal lipid level.
- 9 percent of 14- and 15-year-olds and 10 percent of 18- and 19-year-olds had low HDL cholesterol, compared with 5 percent of 12- and 13-year-olds.
- 8 percent of whites had low levels of HDL cholesterol and 12 percent had high triglycerides compared with black youths (5 percent and 4 percent, respectively).
Typically, heart disease develops in adulthood. But its risk factors, such as abnormal lipid levels and overweight/obesity, often emerge during childhood and adolescence.
Over the past 30 years, obesity among American’s children has increased from 5 percent to more than 17 percent, according to the CDC.