Being Young and Slim, Does It Mean You’re in the Pink of Health?

Caption: It's possible for young adults without a weight problem to have high cholesterol. Dr Tan Hong Chang, Consultant, Department of Endocrinology, Singapore General Hospital (SGH), explains the dangers of this. (iStock photo)

Even if you're young and normal weight, you may not be as healthy as you think. High cholesterol can be present even in healthy young adults without a weight problem.

High cholesterol is one of the major risk factors for atherosclerosis – commonly known as hardening of the arteries as a result from build-up of fat and cholesterol in the walls – putting the person at higher risk of developing heart disease and/or stroke later in life.

"Atherosclerosis develops gradually and there may not be any symptoms until an artery is so narrowed that it cannot supply adequate blood to your organs and tissues. Previously thought to only afflict older people, this hidden thickening of the arteries is now being observed in younger and otherwise healthy adults," explains Dr Tan Hong Chang, a Consultant from the Department of Endocrinology at Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the SingHealth group.

"When a blood clot completely blocks the artery or even breaks apart, it can cause a heart attack or stroke which can be debilitating or even fatal," warns Dr Tan.

Related article: Hardening of the arteries, where else in your body can it occur?

When should you go for screening?

While it is strongly recommended that men and women aged 40 years and older be regularly screened for lipid disorders, younger adults (aged 18 and older) should also be screened in the presence of any of the following risk factors:

  • Diabetes mellitus
  • A family history of cardiovascular disease (heart disease) before the age of 50 in male relatives, and before 60 in female relatives

Related article: Fast food – Is eating it just once a week safe for your heart?

  • A family history suggestive of familial hyperlipidaemia (abnormally high levels of lipids in the blood)
  • Multiple coronary artery disease risk factors (eg. tobacco usage, hypertension, obesity)

Related article: Doctor recommended tips for a healthy heart


Articles on are meant for informational purposes only and cannot replace professional surgical, medical or health advice, examination, diagnosis or treatment.