Cholesterol Prevalence Has Declined Significantly Over Time, CDC Reports

Laura Joszt

From 1999-2000 to 2015-2016, there has been a declining trend in high total cholesterol among adults in the United States, according to a report from the CDC. From 2007-2008 to 2015-2016 there was also a decline in low high-density (HDL) cholesterol. Both types of cholesterol are risk factors for cardiovascular disease, which remains the leading cause of death in the United States.

The report on cholesterol in US adults found that 12.4% of adults had a high total cholesterol during 2015-2016. This represents a significant decline in total cholesterol from 18.3% in 1999-2000. In addition, low HDL cholesterol significantly declined from 22.2% in 2007-2008 to 18.4% in 2015-2016. For both high total cholesterol and low HDL cholesterol the change from 2013-2014 to 2015-2016 was not significant.

Adults between the ages of 40 to 59 had a higher prevalence of high total cholesterol (17.1%) compared with younger adults between the ages of 20 and 39 (7.9%) and older adults age 60 and over (12.5%). Overall, men had a higher prevalence at 25.8% compared with 8.9% of women.

The prevalence of low HDL cholesterol followed similar trends with people between the ages of 40 and 59 having the highest prevalence (20.1%), but younger adults had a higher prevalence (19.2%) than older adults (14.5%). Again, men had a higher prevalence than women (29.5% vs 8.9%).

The report also looked at high total cholesterol and HDL cholesterol by race and found that there were no statistically significant differences in prevalence of high total cholesterol either overall or among men when looking at race and Hispanic origin. The prevalence of low HDL cholesterol was higher in Hispanic adults (24.7%) compared with non-Hispanic whites, non-Hispanic blacks, and non-Hispanic Asians with similar patterns for men and women.

For high total cholesterol, there was a higher prevalence among non-Hispanic whites (14.8%) compared with Hispanics (9%).

“As part of its objectives to improve the health of the US population, Healthy People 2020 has included the goal of reducing the proportion of adults with high total blood cholesterol to less than 13.5%,” the report concluded.
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