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Healthy Habits in Youth Tied to Better Adult Cholesterol Levels

MONDAY, Jan. 3 (HealthDay News) -- A new study links cholesterol levels in young adults to changes in lifestyle between childhood and adulthood.

Previous research had looked at whether blood fat levels, such as cholesterol and triglyceride levels, remain steady from childhood to adulthood.

"Although these [previous] studies found that youth levels correlate well with adult levels, they have shown that a substantial proportion of youth with high-risk levels will not have high-risk levels in adulthood and that a substantial proportion of adults with high-risk levels had normal levels as youth," the authors of the new report wrote.

The new study is published in the January issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

For the new research, Costan G. Magnussen, of the University of Tasmania in Australia, and colleagues looked at the cholesterol and triglyceride levels in 539 people both in childhood and as young adults: levels were measured in 1985 when the participants were 9, 12 or 15, and again between 2004 and 2006, when they were in their 20s and 30s.

"Using established cut points, we found that substantial proportions of individuals with high-risk blood lipid and lipoprotein levels at baseline no longer had high-risk levels at follow-up," the authors wrote. Those who continued to have high levels were more likely to have gained body fat and either started or continued to smoke.

Those who went from low risk in childhood to high risk as adults were also more likely to have gained body fat and become less fit, the investigators found.

"Our findings are important for two reasons. First, they suggest that beneficial changes in modifiable risk factors (smoking and adiposity) in the time between youth and adulthood have the potential to shift those with high-risk blood lipid and lipoprotein levels in youth to low-risk levels in adulthood," Magnussen and colleagues explained. "Second, they emphasize that preventive programs aimed at those who do not have high-risk blood lipid and lipoprotein levels in youth are equally important if the proportion of adults with high-risk levels is to be reduced."

More information

For more about children's nutrition, try the U.S. National Library of Medicine.

-- Randy Dotinga

SOURCE: American Medical Association, news release, Jan. 3, 2011

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