Child health experts believe children should be regularly screened for cholesterol levels. New guidelines from America’s National Institutes of Health recommend the regular screening of kids between the ages of 9 and 11. Doctors say with increasing obesity rates in children, it is essential that steps are taken to make kids aware of their health. They say identifying high cholesterol early can prevent heart disease later on in life. Around 15 per cent of U.S. kids are overweight or obese; a figure that rises to 30 per cent for teenagers. Over ten per cent of children in America have high cholesterol. The test is very simple – just a finger prick blood sample can tell doctors which children are most at risk.
Dr Stephen Daniels of the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and one of the authors of the guidelines explained the importance of starting a screening programme: "The more we learn about heart disease and stroke in adults, the more we know that the process begins in childhood and progresses over time," he said. He believes the guidelines will help identify children who genetically are at a higher risk of having high cholesterol. Dr Daniels added: "We as pediatricians really need to get kids started on the right track and keep them in as low a risk category as possible." The guidelines recommend ways to increase the heart’s health. They say mothers should start with breast-feeding and introduce a low-fat diet for babies.