There are several words in medicine that are bad. They are not four letter words but when said are often said in a lowered voice and with concern as they imply a serious problem. Two examples are cancer and cholesterol. Many are surprised to learn that cholesterol is not as fundamentally evil as many think it is. In fact, it is vital to a healthy life. Children of all ages can be at risk of developing dangerous levels of cholesterol. High cholesterol in children can be passed on from parents or can be caused by obesity and diet.

Most cholesterol is locked up in the body’s cells doing useful things. Cholesterol is a fatty substance that plays important structural and functional roles for cell membranes and hormones. Just a small part of the body’s cholesterol, about 7 percent, floats around in the blood stream. Total cholesterol is made up of the following:

Sally Robinson is a clinical professor of pediatrics at UTMB Children’s Hospital. This column isn’t intended to replace the advice of your child’s physician.

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