Healthier cholesterol levels linked to fit and le



    Children that have lower percentages of body fat and are more physically fit were found to generally have healthier cholesterol levels, according to a study conducted by the BYU Physical Education Department.

    While the relationship between physical fitness and cholesterol in adults has been researched extensively, “very little is known of the relationship in children,” said Larry Tucker, professor of physical education and conductor of the study along with two graduate students, Ron Hager and Gary Seljaas.

    Physical fitness and levels of body fat were found to be integrally related to cholesterol levels. If children are physically fit, they tend to be more lean and have lower cholesterol levels, Tucker said.

    “It’s a triad, a multi-variant relationship,” Tucker said. “Kids that are physically active and (lean) had significantly healthier cholesterol levels than kids that were sedentary or less active,” Tucker said.

    While the connection between physical activity and healthy cholesterol levels was not surprising, Hager said the real relationship lies in the kids’ body-fat level, particularly in the abdominal area.

    “The fitness and cholesterol relationship was strong, but other variables, like body fat, made the relationship less significant,” Hager said.

    But children who are physically active tend to have lower body fat anyway, Hager said.

    While children are the most active segment of the population, Hager was “surprised at how many children had elevated cholesterol levels.”

    More research needs to be done at the youth level since children who have high cholesterol levels tend to become adults with high cholesterol levels, Tucker said.

    The study was published in the December 1995 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

    Three hundred and sixty-two children between the ages of nine and 10 participated in the study. The researchers used dietary and physical activity logs, blood samples, fat percentages and heart rates after a mile run to determine their findings.

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