Parents around the country were shocked when the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that as many as 20 percent of American teens already have cholesterol problems. But take heart: You can help your kid make a few simple changes that can not only reverse unhealthy cholesterol levels, but also reverse the bad habits that got him or her there. Here’s to healthy living!
Get Physical Don’t worry if your child’s not a big athlete. Living actively doesn’t have to mean playing competitive sports. Walking, cycling, swimming and hiking all count.
Limit screen time The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends kids get fewer than two hours a day of TV, computer time, video games—total. Granted, this will be a hard sell. But anything you can do to reduce sedentary play and make it easy for them to be active helps.
Ditch the soda Swap out sugary sodas and energy drinks for flavored waters. Liquid calories are one of the most common causes of youth obesity.
Cook wiser Switch from full-fat milk, yogurt and other dairy products to low-fat ones. Serve up heart-healthy recipes that include brown rice and other whole grains, fiber-rich fruits and vegetables, and foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids—doesn’t matter if they’re whole foods such as salmon or fortified with the nutrient as with most Smart Balance™ fat free or low fat milks and Smart Balance® Omega-3 Spreads, which contain excellent source levels of DHA/EPA Omega-3s. They’ll have to eat something, and if only good stuff is around, you can bet they’ll take what they can get.
Teens and cholesterol screening: Who needs it
The American Pediatric Association tells doctors to consider this criteria when considering who to screen for cholesterol problems. Talk to your doctor if you answer yes to any of the following:
Has a family history of high cholesterol or heart disease
Is overweight or obese, based on body mass index.
Has high blood pressure or diabetes.
Was adopted and has an unknown family history.
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