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15-08-2012 | General practice | Article

Prevalence of high cholesterol still a concern for US youth


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MedWire News: Cholesterol levels seem to have improved over the last two decades among young individuals in the US, but a high prevalence of unfavorable lipid profiles is still being observed among this population, report researchers.

For example, in 2007-2012, over 20% of children aged 9-11 years had either a low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level or a high non-HDL cholesterol level, report Brian Kit (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia, USA) and colleagues.

The findings come from an analysis of available data for children aged 6-19 years who were included in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) conducted in 1988-1994, 1999-2002, and 2007-2010.

"No other studies have measured serum lipid concentrations among youths in a nationally representative sample of the US population for as long as NHANES," remarks the team in JAMA.

The researchers report that, among youths aged 6-19 years, the mean level of total cholesterol (TC) decreased significantly, from 165 mg/dL in 1988 through 1994 to 160 mg/dL in 2007 through 2010. And the prevalence of elevated TC (≥200 mg/dL) also significantly decreased, from 11.3% to 8.1%.

In addition, the mean level of HDL cholesterol significantly increased between these time periods, from 50.5 mg/dL to 52.2 mg/dL, although the prevalence of low HDL cholesterol (40 mg/dL) remained unchanged.

Kit and colleagues also report that the mean level of non-HDL cholesterol significantly dropped during these periods, from 115 mg/dL to 107 mg/dL, as did the prevalence of high non-HDL cholesterol (≥145 mg/dL), which fell from 13.6% to 10.0%.

However, during 2007-2010, 22% of youths still had either a low HDL cholesterol level or a high non-HDL cholesterol level, which, "according to the most recent cardiovascular health guidelines for children and adolescents, indicates a need for additional clinical evaluation," warn Kit et al.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2012

By Sally Robertson, MedWire Reporter

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