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Dr. Kim Mulvihill reportingA new government study shows how cholesterol levels are on the way down. But the news is mixed.
Cardiovascular disease is the number one killer of Americans. Anything to lower the risk is good news. However, this study shows just a glimmer of hope.
Cholesterol levels in older Americans are going down.
"Well I've lost weight, I've changed my eating habits and I am on a cholesterol medication, but I don't know what it is right now."
Researchers tracked the cholesterol levels of tens of thousands of adults for 40 years. The biggest drops occurred in women over 50, and men over 60.
But the news is mixed: The reason cholesterol levels are dropping is not because people are exercising more or eating healthier. It's because of drugs.
Cliffor I. Johnson, MSPH: "These older folks are also likely to be the group who are using cholesterol-lowering medications. Thus, it is not surprising that we saw a significant decrease in cholesterol levels in this particular age group."
If fact, Americans are still woefully overweight.
Kelly Brownell: "People are exposed to a terrible food environment, where food is accessible, cheap, very heavily promoted and convenient and have other features which drive people to unhealthy rather than healthy foods."
This is particularly true among younger adults. This study shows their cholesterol levels have not fallen. And, their triglycerides levels, another fat found in blood linked to heart disease, are on the way up.
Researchers believe cholesterol levels could be much lower in all Americans if they adopt a healthier lifestyle. That means eating healthy, low-fat foods, getting regular exercise and staying at a healthy weight.