Mrs. Green’s World is a platform that not only educates people about the health of the planet, but also encourages all of us to consider various options to create healthy, sustainable communities. We are proud to partner with Tucson Medical Center, which has been Tucson’s locally governed nonprofit regional hospital for more than 70 years. Because TMC is committed to empowering patients to be active partners in their care and has a robust wellness outreach program, we are sharing TMC’s message. To learn more, please listen to our special podcast series, sponsored by Tucson Medical Center.

2 apples with heart shaped cookie cutter

High cholesterol isn’t just a problem for adults.

With more time in front of screens and easy access to junk food, children are becoming more susceptible to unhealthy levels of cholesterol.

This is a problem because if left untreated, too much cholesterol can lead to early heart attack or stroke.

“Though a child’s immediate health doesn’t seem to be impacted, high levels of cholesterol can lead to a build-up of plaque on the walls of the arteries,” said Dr. Marc Jacobson, a pediatric lipid disorder specialist at TMCOne. “That plaque can eventually narrow the arteries and block blood flow to the heart, causing heart problems.”

Early detection is key. Whether a child has high cholesterol from lifestyle choices or from a genetic condition, the earlier you catch it, the less chance your child has of developing heart problems as a young adult.

Should I get my child checked for high cholesterol?

Yes, but when depends on a couple things. If your child has a parent, grandparent or blood-related aunt or uncle who has had a heart attack before age 60, they should get tested at age 2. If not, you can wait until your child is 9-11 years old.

What if my child has high cholesterol?

Lifestyle management is the cornerstone of lowering cholesterol levels:

  • A diet low in saturated fats and sugars
  • Regular physical activity
  • Maintaining or achieving a healthy weight for their age and height

A small fraction (about 10%) who have a genetic condition that interferes with the body’s making or processing cholesterol may need medication.

How can I help keep my child’s levels healthy?

Start with the 5, 2, 1, 0 method:

  • 5 servings of fruit or vegetables a day
  • 2 hours or less of screen time
  • 1 hour of active play
  • 0 or near 0 sugary beverages

Watch the fried foods, especially fast food.