Serum total cholesterol and ferritin and haemoglobin concentrations were measured in blood samples obtained by venepuncture in 378 of 593 children aged 5-6 or 8-9 years from seven primary schools in Canterbury. This study formed part of an investigation to assess the feasibility of including a venepuncture procedure for monitoring purposes in primary schoolchildren. Although only one child had a very low haemoglobin concentration of 61 g/l, a large percentage, 25% in the rising 6 years and 7% in the rising 9 years, had concentrations between 100 and 115 g/l--that is, less than the reference fifth centile. Eight per cent had a serum ferritin concentration less than 8 micrograms/l. Cholesterol concentrations higher than 5.2 mmol/l were found in 20% of the 5-6 year olds and 23% of the 8-9 year olds, and in 19% of boys and 25% of girls. About 5% of children had cholesterol concentrations above 6 mmol/l. The number of children with anaemia, iron deficiency, and high cholesterol raises serious concerns about the nutritional and coronary heart disease risk of British children.
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