Our estranged colonial brethren across the sea have a somewhat unflattering image abroad. Unfortunately one of them, the idea that many Americans are obese, may be more grounded in fact than many may be comfortable with. According to new research, as many as one in five children within the USA have high cholesterol, much of which results from obesity, which puts them at risk for a number of health problems as they grow older.
According to the spokesperson of the American Heart Association (AHA), Dr Stephen Daniels, children and teens who are overweight are twice as likely as their peers to possess high levels of "bad" cholesterol and low levels of "good" cholesterol.
While he concedes that sometimes child obesity and high levels of cholesterol can sometimes be the result of hereditary genetics, the vast majority of cases are preventable. In such scenarios, the cause can be directly linked to poor eating habits and insufficient physical activity at home and in schools. In essence, factors in high cholesterol that can easily have been avoided by the parents or guardians. The same applies for heart-related diseases that children will eventually develop as adults.
Heart-related diseases are among the leading causes of death for Americans, with deaths linked to them numbering around 610,000 a year. Medical treatment for such diseases also cost American hospitals and health insurance providers nearly $110 billion a year.
"We're seeing the effects of poor lifestyle choices trickle down to younger generations," says Katie Ferraro, a dietician and diabetes educator at the University of California (San Francisco).
Studies also suggest that treating the endemic will not be an issue easily resolved, and that it may take several generations before any improvements are made to the long term health of children in the USA. Ultimately, it's a question of changing the way kids are raised and the lifestyles they are born into.
While it's easy to criticise the Americans for their poor dietary habits, it's also easy to forget that the picture here in Britain is hardly any better. Obesity amongst children is on the rise and has been for the past decade, and heart and circulatory diseases are still responsible for 160,000 deaths per year in the UK. Cardiovascular disease is also believed to cost the British economy around £19 billion to be treated by the NHS.
Thus it's clear that something needs to be done to help treat high levels of cholesterol not just in the USA, but at home as well.
The most effective, if not the most straightforward, is to change your lifestyle habits. Eat healthy balanced diets that are low in unsaturated fats, and ensure you get plenty of physical exercise in order to ensure that you can promote a robust and healthy circulatory system. While it may take some getting used to, most doctors will still swear by it as the most effective means of preventing heart and circulatory diseases later on in life. Naturally, your children will benefit immensely from such life style changes too, and the younger to start them on healthy living the more easy they'll find adhere to it to be.
To further help reduce high levels of cholesterol, you can also consider a number of pharmaceutical treatments. Statin is a prescription drug that may be issued if it's found that lifestyle changes alone are making insufficient progress in fighting cholesterol, or if levels are especially acute. These are readily available either through the NHS, or through trusted pharmaceutical suppliers such as 121doc. Such drugs need a prescription of course – they are not over the counter affairs.