Doctors are turning to new solutions to help overweight children--and not all moms are happy about it.
"Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in this country. One out of every three children is overweight and an estimated 17% are actually obese. Elevated body mass index (BMI), the measure for being overweight or obese, is directly correlated with elevated cholesterol.
For obese children, nutrition and exercise make a big difference in cholesterol levels. But for children with familial hypercholesterolemia, the numbers don't drop to normal levels with diet and exercise alone. For these children, cholesterol-lowering medicines have been used by pediatric cardiologists for years. They seem quite safe and they certainly work to lower cholesterol levels. Of course, no drug is without side effects. And because some of these children will presumably be on these drugs for the rest of their lives, there are unknown consequences related to taking the medicine for decades.
Over the past several years, the AAP has recommended screening children at increasingly younger ages to check for elevated cholesterol. We know that a family history of high cholesterol increases a person's risk for the same. It turns out, there is nothing special about childhood that protects against elevated cholesterol. For those who have a strong family history, it doesn't matter if you are 8, 18, or 48 ... your cholesterol may still be high. And this means that your risk of heart disease goes up, regardless of your age.
Because cholesterol is so clearly associated with heart disease, and because heart disease is the greatest killer of adults in this country, anything that can lower lifetime cholesterol should be considered. General pediatricians will not be prescribing cholesterol-lowering medicines for every child in their practice. Rather, with more aggressive screening, children will be referred to specialists who can discuss the pros and cons of the medicine."
Do you think kids this young should be on cholesterol meds?