US Teens Have Unhealthy Cholesterol Levels

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The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) completed a research which studied data on 3,125 teens from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 1999 through 2006. What they discovered was that 20% of people aged 12-19 in the U.S. have at least one abnormal cholesterol or lipid level, including low-density lipoprotein (LDL) or "bad" cholesterol, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) or "good" cholesterol, and triglycerides.

Overweight young people are at far greater risk of having abnormal lipid levels than are youths with normal weights," researcher Ashleigh May, PhD, an epidemic intelligence service officer in CDC's Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention, says in a news release. "The current epidemic of childhood obesity makes this a matter of significant and urgent concern."

Earlier research found that the obesity epidemic has been accompanied by an increase in a host of health problems in youths that were previously found mostly among adults, including high blood pressure, diabetes and arthritis.

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The new data detail the obesity's effect on cholesterol levels, which can increase the risk for a variety of illnesses, including diabetes and heart disease. "The current epidemic of childhood obesity makes this a matter of significant and urgent concern," said Ashleigh May, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the federal CDC Prevention's.

In 2008 there were recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics that children and adolescents get blood tests to see whether they need to be treated for abnormal lipid levels. These recommendations support what this current study discovered; that US teens have unhealthy cholesterol levels.

"People are worried that this generation is going to grow up to have more cardiovascular disease than the current generation," said Denise Simons-Morton of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute. "This problem is poised to negate all of the advances we've made in cardiovascular health."

Linda Van Horn, a professor of preventive medicine at Northwestern University who heads the American Heart Association's Nutrition Committee states, "This is the future of America. This really is an urgent call for health-care providers and families to take this issue seriously."

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