Dieting and High Cholesterol in Children?

This article is a response to The Family Impact of High Cholesterol in Children by Today’s Dietitian RD Lounge.

“Atherosclerosis begins in childhood”

That is a scary statement! Atherosclerosis is actually a disease state in which plaque (made from fat, cholesterol, and other substances) builds up in your arteries. It is just me, or is there a tendency to assume that children have a clean slate and only as adults do we see the outcome of lifestyle choices?

This article clearly highlights that the sooner we introduce healthy, positive lifestyle factors into our families, the sooner we see the benefits. Parents want their families and children to have a healthy, full life! This article does a great job at encouraging the whole family to get involved in physical health. One of the keys ways is with home-cooked meals. Eating 3 or more meals per week as a family has been shown to increase eating healthy foods by 24%! It has also been related to greater emotional well-being in adolescence and stronger relationships with their parents. Keep this in mind when encouraging and exploring new foods, and have fun in the kitchen as a family!

This article doesn’t inform parents that mental health is just as important as physical! In Canada, 50% of teenage girls and 25% of teenage boys try dieting. Long-term dieting can be dangerous, lead to feelings of low self-esteem, and may cause more weight gain. It is just as significant for adolescents to have a positive relationship with food as is eating well. Consider the messaging around food, especially for children that have just been given a diagnosis like high cholesterol. Labeling foods as “good” and “bad” can subconsciously plant seeds that we are “good” or “bad” when we eat those foods. Mealtimes should be viewed as positive, as a way to fuel the body and keep it running optimally.  Treats and extras are viewed exactly as that–extras.

The bottom line is, it’s never too early to start wholesome habits. The habits and skills we instill in our children are the tools they will use throughout their whole lives.


By Raina Beugelink – Registered Nutritionist/Dietitian

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