Should all children be screened for high cholesterol?
That's the suggestion of a study out of West Virginia that found that a family history alone isn't sufficient to catch high cholesterol among children.
In analyzing results from family histories and fasting lipid tests of more than 20,000 West Virginia youngsters, researchers found that 71 percent of them met guidelines for cholesterol screening based on family history.
But it said that a third of children whose cholesterol levels were high enough to merit treatment were being missed by guidelines so dependent upon family history. The study concludes that many youngsters could benefit from universal cholesterol screening that would allow for early diagnosis.
However Dr. Richard Besser, ABC News' senior health and medical editor for ABC News, is cautious of the study. He said the study did not take into account obesity levels and that we should be careful putting young children on medication they may have to use for the rest of their lives.
Besser suggests the emphasis should be on obesity prevention and the promotion of healthy eating habits and exercise for the whole family since weight loss and exercise is one way to reduce cholesterol without medication.
Tips to Keep Your Kids' Cholesterol Down
Make sure you know your family history.
Exercise regularly. According to the CDC, children and adolescents should do 60 minutes (1 hour) or more of physical activity each day.
Make sure your children eat foods low in total fat, saturated fat, trans fat and cholesterol.
Select a variety of foods so your child can get all the nutrients he or she needs.
Some Healthy Meal Options:
Breakfast: Fruit, cereal, oatmeal and low-fat yogurt are among the good choices for breakfast foods. Use skim or 1 percent milk rather than whole or 2 percent milk (after age 2, or as recommended by your doctor).
Lunch and Dinner: Increase vegetable consumption and cut back on meats. In fact, you can join the Meatless Monday movement! Cutting meats out of your diet at least one day each week can cut down on your fat intake and will make room for more nutrient-rich vegetables.
Bake or grill foods instead of frying them. Use whole-grain breads and rolls to make a healthier sandwich. Also, give your child whole-grain crackers with soups, chili, and stew. Prepare pasta, beans, rice, fish, skinless poultry or other dishes. Always serve fresh fruit (with the skin) with meals.
Snacks: Fruits, vegetables, breads and cereals make great snacks for children. Children should avoid soda and fruit drinks.
CLICK HERE for some heart healthy meal recipes from the "GMA" Recipes page.