Growing rates of obesity, physical inactivity and unhealthy eating among children continues to be a major problem in the United States. In fact, the American Heart Association notes that current rates of overweight and obese children and adolescents have tripled in the last 50 years. It should come as no surprise, then, that some children have begun to develop chronic health conditions -- like high triglyceride levels -- much earlier than expected. Identifying normal triglyceride levels is crucial for parents who want to ensure the health and longevity of their children.
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Triglycerides are a type of fat found in blood plasma. While a portion of total triglyceride stores are naturally produced by your child's body, others come from dietary sources -- such as carbohydrates. Calories not immediately used as fuel by your child's body may be converted to triglycerides and stored in fat cells in the blood stream, notes the American Heart Association. These stored triglycerides may be released by fat cells for energy during physical activity and between meals.
Normal Child Triglyceride Levels
The American College of Sports Medicine reports that normal triglyceride levels for children under the age of 18 are less than 150 mg/dL. Borderline high, high and very high triglyceride levels are measured at 150 to 199 mg/dL, 200 to 499 mg/dL, and greater than 500 mg/dL, respectively.
Causes of High Triglyceride Levels
A number of factors can cause elevated triglyceride levels in children, reports the University of Rochester Medical Center. Chronic health conditions, such as diabetes, hypothyroidism, and kidney and liver disease, are all associated with the development of abnormal triglycerides. The University of Rochester Medical Center notes that obesity and the consumption of significant amounts of fat, alcohol and sweets may also lead to this condition. In some cases, children with a strong family history may develop high triglyceride levels at an early age.
Treatment for High Triglycerides
Lifestyle modification is crucial for children who have been diagnosed with abnormal triglyceride levels. The American Council on Exercise reports that children who have abnormal triglyceride levels should be encouraged to start a regular exercise program that includes 60 minutes of aerobic exercise each day. Reducing caloric intake, lowering saturated fat consumption, and incorporating a colorful blend of various fruits and vegetables is essential for children who want to achieve normal triglyceride levels. Children who use tobacco or alcohol should stop immediately to keep triglyceride levels in check.
- American Heart Association: Triglycerides
- ACSM's Resource Manual for Exercise Testing and Prescription; American College of Sports Medicine
- University of Rochester Medical Center: Cholesterol, LDL, HDL, and Triglycerides in Children and Adolescents
- ACE's Personal Trainer Manual; American Council on Exercise
- American Heart Association: Overweight in Children