Cholesterol levels drop in kids
With all the ills that have come from the childhood obesity epidemic, one surprise finding provides a small glimmer of hope: Cholesterol levels have dropped in children over the past 20 years, according to a government survey published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association.
The study, which analyzed blood samples collected from more than 16,000 young people from 1988 to 2010, found that about 8 percent of participants ages 6 to 19 had high total cholesterol levels in 2010 compared with more than 11 percent who had elevated cholesterol at the beginning of the study. Researchers also found a corresponding rise in “good” HDL cholesterol levels and a decrease in levels of harmful triglycerides, another component of cholesterol that’s often tied to excess sugar consumption.
“I think that’s an important decrease,” said study leader Dr. Brian Kit, of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But it’s one that the researchers couldn’t fully explain given the expansion of kids’ waistlines.
Parents and teens are smoking less than they were two decades ago, and this may have led to an overall rise in HDL, said Dr. Sarah de Ferranti, director of preventive cardiology at Boston Children’s Hospital.
We’ve also cut back on trans fats, the stuff in Crisco and other partially hydrogenated oils such as margarine.