Americans Continue To Have Better Lipid Profiles Interview with:
Asher Rosinger, PHD, MPH
Epidemic Intelligence Service Officer, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Division of Health and Examination Nutrition Examination Surveys, Analysis Branch
National Center for Health Statistic What is the background for this study?

Response: Total cholesterol, triglycerides, and low-density lipoprotein (LDL) levels are linked to coronary heart disease and cardiovascular events. Between 1999 and 2010, total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL levels declined among U.S. adults. We used new data from the 2011-2014 nationally representative National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) to determine if earlier trends continued. What are the main findings?

Response: Our study found that the decreasing trend for total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL continued among U.S. adults over the last 4 years; however, the triglycerides and LDL level declines continued with significantly steeper declines over the last 4 years, meaning that the drop accelerated from the previous trend. For example, triglycerides, which had a cumulative decline of 13 mg/dL between 1999-2000 and 2011-2012, declined another 13 mg/dL between 2011-2012 and 2013-2014. We found that the decreasing trends were evident in both adults taking cholesterol lowering medications and those not taking these medications, but the recent drops were largest for adults not taking these medications. What should readers take away from your report?

Response: The magnitude of the declines in total cholesterol, triglycerides, and LDL over the last four years were substantial, especially when comparing it to the previous 12 years and the declines are not due only to cholesterol lowering medication since we saw drops among adults not taking these medications. What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?

Response: It will be important to understand what is driving these trends. The finding that adults who are not taking cholesterol lowering medications had steeper declines over the last four years than adults taking these medications is a clue that the drops are not being driven by increased use of these medications alone.

One possible reason includes the removal of trans-fatty acids from foods, which reduces the amount of trans-fatty acids people consume. Future research should use nationally representative data to look at this connection between trans-fatty acids and cholesterol levels. Thank you for your contribution to the community.


Rosinger A, Carroll MD, Lacher D, Ogden C. Trends in Total Cholesterol, Triglycerides, and Low-Density Lipoprotein in US Adults, 1999-2014. JAMA Cardiol. Published online November 30, 2016. doi:10.1001/jamacardio.2016.4396

Note: Content is Not intended as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider regarding your specific medical condition and questions

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Last Updated on December 2, 2016 by Marie Benz MD FAAD