Lipid levels of children and teenagers improving, CDC finds

On a more optimistic note, a recent study by the CDC reports an across-the-board improvement in the average cholesterol levels of U.S. children and adolescents over the past two decades.

The study, published in JAMA, examined trends in serum lipid concentrations in more than 16,000 U.S. children and adolescents; it included low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C, or bad cholesterol), non-high density lipoprotein cholesterol (non-HDL-C), triglycerides, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C, or good cholesterol). The data was culled from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey during three time periods: 1988-1994, 1999-2002, and 2007-2010.

While we won t go into the specific details regarding the relative declines in these various lipid levels (and trust us, there are many such details), we can tell that the data all point to an improving average lipid profile among our young people.

While the numbers are significant and the improvements are pleasing, it s important to note that further research needs to be done to explain just why we are seeing these trends, says ACSH's Dr. Gilbert Ross. Given the increase in obesity and diabetes among kids during these same intervals, and the decrease in healthy exercise due to computers and other keyboard-based activities, these findings are quite surprising. Public health would benefit greatly if we could figure out how to make these positive trends continue, or even accelerate.