Cholesterol Kids

Reporter: Frank Pangallo

Junk foods are fast and convenient meals for most kids...and a staple of their weekly diets. It seems they're still consuming too much of the wrong stuff... While not doing enough to combat the health consequences.... And shortly we'll reveal some shock findings of blood tests we carried out which seem confirm that. Dr. Steele says “kids are significantly heavier now and if you look their daily routine it is incredibly. The diet is different, a lot of meals are out of home, and the diet is much higher in sugar and saturated fat.” Adelaide cardiologist Dr. Peter Steele is with the national heart foundation...he's seeing a worrying trend... More younger people with diabetes...and heart disease...which is still the nation's biggest killer. “Our worry is that if childhood obesity isn't sort of slowed back, particularly in conjunction with centenary lifestyle. Then we will be seeing heart attacks at a much younger age group in 10 or 20 years time.”

Dr. Steele says high cholesterol is a major factor in heart disease...but you don't need to be overweight to have it. “If your cholesterol is high and your diet is high in saturated fat, you are more likely definitely to get cardiac disease... But if you do fix your diet, your cholesterol and obesity and all these other risks factors, you go a long way to preventing serious disease.” In adults total cholesterol of about 5.5 is normal...for children aged from 10 to 18...there's surprisingly little data on their levels...but 4.5 is considered acceptable...

We traveled around Adelaide's metropolitan area to conduct our tests....from a small pin prick we took a blood sample which was then analyzed for cholesterol and sugar...we also asked participants various questions about diet and lifestyle. 31 per cent told us they consumed fast food more than once a week...25 per cent said they never choose low fat foods or drinks low in sugar...a good sign...along with 75 per cent who exercised more than twice a week. Dr. Peter Clifton...of the CSIRO's division of human nutrition and co author of the best seller the total well being diet...says diet education should begin in kitchen at home..

Our results for sugar were all pleasingly normal... But total cholesterol was surprisingly high...45 per cent were over the normal level of 4.5.....of those...a staggering 79 per cent were in Adelaide's north east...next was the south. Then came the north and the west...Dr. Steele says it's a wake up call for parents.