Should I be concerned about the cholesterol levels of my children’ I know how important cholesterol levels are in adults, but I’m not sure how that relates to children. ‘ A recent study conducted by researchers at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston indicates that cholesterol levels are just as important in youngsters as in adults. “The cholesterol levels they have as children could play a role in their health as adults,” said Dr. Theresa Nicklas, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor. “Our study showed the effect of diet on serum lipids in children is similar to that observed in adults.” She said it is very important that parents begin encouraging healthy eating habits early in life. “Preschool is a good time to begin,” Nicklas said. “It’s much easier to learn young than to try to change established habits later.” H I’m worried about how much activity my son will have during the summer months. How much exercise should a nine-year-old get each day’ ‘ Children should accumulate at least 60 minutes of physical activity every day, said Dr. Nancy Butte, a professor of pediatrics at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. New national guidelines recommend that calorie needs be directly tied to activity levels. “Linking children’s energy needs to their activity level is essential because, contrary to popular belief, a child’s energy needs for growth are small compared to that for physical activity,” she said. “Through age nine, children need only an extra 20 calories a day to support their growth needs. Children nine to 18 only need an extra 25 calories a day. So, you would best help your son stay on the right growth track by encouraging exercise along with good nutritional habits.” H We are planning a family vacation that includes a long car trip. What are the best foods to pack that the kids can eat easily in the car’ ‘ Instead of packing snacks to eat while driving, stop every few hours for short “snack and play” breaks, said Joan Clark, an instructor of pediatrics at the Children’s Nutrition Research Center at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston. She said using food as entertainment for children on car trips is contributing to the bad habit of encouraging them to eat when they’re not hungry. On trips less than two hours, water is the only thing you need to offer. On the long family road trips, stop for a 15-minute break and throw a football around in addition to having a little snack. “Let them burn off some energy,” Clark said.