Do you think 8 year olds should be taking anti-cholesterol medication ?

These children, playing in a public space, var...Image via Wikipedia

American Academy of Pediatrics released new guidelines, as reported here, that are suggesting that anti-cholesterol drugs be prescribed for kids as young as 8 year old if they have high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol, see below) and other risky conditions (e.g. obesity, high blood pressure). What do you think of this example of their new guide lines?

A bit of background.

In an earlier overview article I mentioned that cholesterol measurement as an indicator of your health. Within reason low cholesterol (less than 200 mg/dL, though other suggest lower than 150 mg/dL) is better than high cholesterol, but there are some negatives if your cholesterol is too low, though most of us do not have to worry about that situation.

The next level of measurements are looking at high density lipoprotein (HDL: good cholesterol) and low density lipoprotein (LDL: bad cholesterol) components of cholesterol (interestingly, that are further level of assessment, but I will not cover that today). For optimum health you want low LDL (less than 100 mg/dl, others suggest less than 70 mg/dL). On the other hand you want high levels of HDL. More recent research concentrate more on the ratio of total cholesterol/HDL, or LDL/HDL ratio among additional measurements (I will cover these in detail at another time).

But all that aside, does developed countries have something to be concerned about if the medical establishment are taking the dramatic steps of promoting anti-cholesterol drugs for kids?

From the article on the CNN site:

“With one-third of U.S. children overweight and about 17 percent obese, the new recommendations are important, said Dr. Jennifer Li, a Duke University children’s heart specialist.

“We need to do something to stem the tide of childhood obesity,” Li said.”

But what does doing something about the tide of childhood obesity have to do with high cholesterol and high LDL? These blood measurements are the product of the obesity – so why not treat the cause (overeating, obesity) rather than the symptoms? What about increased play (or exercise) and eating healthy food instead of taking more drugs?

What do you think? If you have kids (or imagine if you had kids) would you put them on (under the guidelines of your family doctor) anti-cholesterol drugs if they fall into this category as described in the guidelines – or would you choose lifestyle changes?

4 comments for “Do you think 8 year olds should be taking anti-cholesterol medication ?

  1. JB
    July 7, 2008 at 11:33 am

    I agree. Its a travesty to have to do this. Treat the cause!

  2. Carmen
    July 8, 2008 at 12:02 am

    Such ‘guild line’ is so ‘American’ – pro-big companies, especially big pharmaceutical companies in this case.
    Is the American Association of Pediatricians the same organization that push forward the compulsory vaccine for cervical cancer?