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1 In 5 American Teens Have Cholesterol Problems

January 22, 2010

According to the CDC, one in five teens in the U.S.””and more than 40 percent of obese teens””have abnormal cholesterol, whether it’s low HDL (good cholesterol); high LDL (bad cholesterol); or high levels of triglycerides, another type of blood fat.

These findings suggest that the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) 2008 guidelines – which recommend more aggressive testing and interventions in kids, especially the overweight – make sense.

A study was carried out on 3,125 teens 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.

“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,” Ashleigh May of the CDC says.

“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.”

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

Many parents aren’t sure whether they should have their children tested and what to do if a youngster does indeed have high cholesterol. And pediatricians may be testing more children, even those who don’t fit the guidelines.

But are doctors testing the right kids?

Experts are worried about “just because” testing because it may lead to anxiety and unnecessary biopsies.

Although the 2008 guidelines and the CDC results suggest testing obese children is helpful, Dr. Lee and colleagues recently published a study that suggests that body weight isn’t a strong indicator of which kids will have high cholesterol.

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