High Cholesterol in Children
How Is High Cholesterol in Children Treated?
The best way to treat cholesterol in children is with a diet and exercise program that involves the entire family. Here are some tips.
- Eat foods low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat, and cholesterol. The amount of total fat a child consumes should be 30% or less of daily total calories. This suggestion does NOT apply to children under the age of two. Saturated fat should be kept to less than 10% of daily total calories while trans fat should be avoided. For children in the high-risk group, saturated fat should be restricted to 7% of total calories and dietary cholesterol to 200 milligrams a day.
- Select a variety of foods so your child can get all the nutrients he or she needs.
- Exercise regularly. Regular aerobic exercise, such as biking, running, walking, and swimming, can help raise HDL levels (the "good" cholesterol) and lower your child's risk for cardiovascular disease.
Here are some examples of healthy foods to give your child.
- For breakfast: Fruit, non-sugary cereal, oatmeal, and low-fat yogurt are among the good choices for breakfast foods. Use skim or 1% milk rather than whole or 2% milk (after age 2, or as recommended by your doctor).
- For lunch and dinner: Bake or grill foods instead of frying them. Use whole-grain breads and rolls to make a healthier sandwich. Also, give your child whole-grain crackers with soups, chili, and stew. Prepare pasta, beans, rice, fish, skinless poultry, or other dishes. Always serve fresh fruit (with the skin) with meals.
- For snacks: Fruits, vegetables, breads, and cereals make great snacks for children. Children should avoid soda, juice and fruit drinks.
If diet and exercise alone doesn't improve your child's cholesterol level, your child may need to take medication such as cholesterol-lowering statin drugs.
A child's cholesterol level should be retested and monitored after dietary changes are made or medication started as recommended by your child's health care provider.