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Friday, July 16, 2010

Universal Cholesterol Screening for Kids?

As a corporate wellness company, we spend our days trying to get adults to participate in biometric screenings. I say adults, because a new study suggests that all children should be screened for high cholesterol.

NPR recently broadcast a report on the study, which you can read and listen to here.

Traditionally, cholesterol screening is generally recommended for children with a family history of heart disease and high cholesterol. A new study found that those guidelines may miss a number of at-risk children.

I didn't know this before reading the piece in Time magazine, but since 2000, West Virginia has offered free cholesterol screenings for all fifth graders in public schools. Researchers studied the results of their screenings, and found that if the existing guidelines had been followed (rather than testing every child), they would have missed the 10% of children who had elevated LDL levels.

High cholesterol at a young age is a predictor of diabetes, which is why researchers are pushing for the testing guidelines to be changed. (Not all doctors agree, of course.) I think the issue simply underscores the seriousness of childhood health issues -- obesity, diabetes, and now high cholesterol. No wonder Michelle Obama has made it her signature issue.

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