1 in 5 U.S. Kids Has High Cholesterol

New research shows 20% of U.S. children and teens have abnormal lipid levels, an indication of too much bad cholesterol, too little good cholesterol or high triglycerides.

These abnormal levels can raise the risk for heart disease, which is the leading cause of death in the United States, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Obesity may be linked to these high levels," said report author Ashleigh May, an epidemic intelligence service officer with the CDC.  "Forty-three percent of obese youth are eligible for therapeutic lifestyle counseling, and 22 percent of overweight youth were also eligible," she added.

Doctors need to be aware of lipid screening guidelines and treatments, especially for obese and overweight youth, May said, because abnormal lipid levels can lead to heart disease down the road.  "We really need to identify youth early who have these abnormal lipid levels so we can reduce their risk for later heart disease," May said.

The report is published in the Jan. 22 issue of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report.