Children and Cholesterol
Childhood obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, more than tripling in the last three decades. The prevalence of obesity among children and adolescents is nearly 20 percent, and rising. What could have a more devastating impact on kids’ health? Obesity makes it more likely that these children suffer from heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, bone and joint problems, and social and psychological problems.
Obesity is multifactorial, including genetic, behavioral, and environmental factors. Caloric imbalance (expending too few calories for the amount of calories consumed), poor diet, and lack of physical activity are important considerations. Childhood obesity is almost completely preventable, we don’t have to wait for a new drug or technology; we just have to put into practice what we already know. What’s changed is our diet and lifestyle. If we caused it, we can reverse it. Consider this: a typical teenage boy drinks 20 ounces of sugary soda a day. Experts agree that American’s increasingly sedentary lifestyle and fondness for fast food has contributed to our increasing girth.
Thus, it is a bit of a shock to see conventional medicine recommend cholesterol-lowering drugs such as Lipitor for children. The emphasis on cholesterol in the diet as a cause for heart disease – an idea clung to for decades by media and medicine alike – turned out to be a myth. Yet, the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), which has 60,000 pediatrician members, has said that it wants kids as young as eight years of age to take cholesterol-lowering drugs.
Side effects of cholesterol-lowering drugs include fever, liver damage, muscle pain, rhabdomyolysis (muscle breakdown), memory loss, personality changes, irritability, headaches, anxiety, depression, chest pain, acid regurgitation, dry mouth, vomiting, leg pain, insomnia, eye irritation, tremors, dizziness, and more.
It is wrong to advocate drug therapy for obese children. Cardiovascular disease is not caused by a failure to take enough pharmaceuticals as a child – it is a lifestyle disease. Kids need to eat right and exercise. If they need help lowering cholesterol, give them a safe vitamin, not a drug, and urge them to eat healthier and exercise more.
Fats and Appetite Suppression
Fats have a marvelous way of staying in the stomach for longer periods than carbohydrates, which provides a feeling of satiety. Butter also has the quality of adding enjoyable flavor to a food (just consult any Julia Child cookbook). Making butter a bad actor along with all its relatives overlooked its uniqueness. Its short-chain fatty acid, butyric acid, encourages the growth of favorable bacteria (probiotics) in the gut, which, among many other functions, synthesize a portion of the B vitamin pyridoxine (B6). This should get one thinking more about quality rather than simply quantity, and incorporating saturated fats in the diet without over-indulging.