The role of relative weight in the positive association between age and serum cholesterol in men and women

Serafim Nanas*, Wen Harn Pan, Jeremiah Stamler, Kiang Liu, Alan Richard Dyer, Rose Stamler, James A. Schoenberger, Richard B. Shekelle

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


With advancing age from youth on, there is an increase in mean serum cholesterol level of populations in "western" industrialized countries. Since serum cholesterol is one of the established major risk factors for premature coronary heart disease, it is important to explore the degree to which this age trend is physiologic or due to modern life styles. This study used cross-sectional data for 19,730 white men and 13,872 white women from the Chicago Heart Association Detection Project in Industry to investigate one aspect of this question: does weight explain the association between age and serum cholesterol, in particular whether older age is associated with higher serum cholesterol in the absence of overweight. The relationships among age, relative weight, and serum cholesterol were examined through assessment of mean serum cholesterol levels in 25 subgroups stratified by age (18-24, 25-34, 35-44, 45-54, 55-64) and by relative weight (< 100, 100-109, 110-119, 120-134, ≥ 135). Age and serum cholesterol were positively associated with each other. In women, it was a simple, linear relationship. In men, the degree of this positive association was less in people over age 35-44 than people in younger ages. These age-cholesterol patterns were present in men and women at desirable weight. However, in men aged 18-54, the positive association between age and prevalence of marked hypercholesterolemia (serum cholesterol ≥ 250) was lower in people at desirable relative weight in comparison to those at higher relative weight. This phenomenon was not clear in women, possibly because the relationship of relative weight to serum cholesterol was relatively small in comparison to the age association. These data indicate that for Americans, age and serum cholesterol are generally associated in the absence of overweight, but the tendency for prevalence of hypercholesterolemia to be progressively higher with older age was less in non-overweight men.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)887-892
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Chronic Diseases
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1987


  • Age
  • Association
  • Relative weight
  • Serum cholesterol

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology


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