A third of school-age kids may have risky cholesterol levels

March 28, 2014, NPR [Shots Blog]

By Linda Poon

Of all the things parents worry about when it comes to their children’s health, high cholesterol probably isn’t very high on the list.

But roughly one in three primary school kids may already have borderline-high or high cholesterol, according to a large study to be presented this week at a meeting of the American College of Cardiology. And while the cholesterol may not be causing any evident problems for those children now, researchers say, it could already be starting to harden and narrow their arteries, paving the way for heart disease and stroke down the road.

In fact, previous research has suggested that a child’s total cholesterol level is the single greatest predictor of whether he or she will have extremely high cholesterol as an adult, says Thomas Seery, a pediatric cardiologist at the Texas Children’s Hospital and the study’s lead author. Continue reading

Is childhood obesity contagious?

July 11, 2013, Pew Research Center.org

By Rich Morin

Every parent knows that young children catch lots of things at school: chicken pox, the flu and, of course, the annual back-to-school cold.

Now there’s evidence that kids can catch something else from their classmates:  obesity.

Of course there isn’t a fat virus, or at least one we know about. But a research team from the University of Arkansas has tracked the pattern of weight gains and obesity among 341,876 elementary school students and found that the typical student gained extra pounds in grades with a larger share of obese classmates but slimmed down when they were in classes with a larger proportion of skinny kids. Continue reading