By DAVID WILLIAMSON
UNC-CH News Services
CHAPEL HILL -- Vigorous exercise and health education classes can cut adolescents' cholesterol levels and reduce their risk of developing heart disease later in life, according to a new study.
The study, conducted by University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill researchers, showed adolescents who participated in a health and physical education program designed by the scientists lowered total fat in their blood by an average of 7 percent. Subjects' LDL, or so-called "bad" cholesterol, dropped by 10 percent during the program.
Children who participated in either the exercise or the classroom instruction arms of the program also showed drops in cholesterol, but not as much, said Dr. Joanne S. Harrell, professor of nursing and principal investigator. HDL, or "good" cholesterol, increased slightly among the children.
"I don't think most parents realize how little actual physical activity their children get at school nowadays," Harrell said. "Most middle-aged and older people in this country were far more active when they were children than kids are now. Our study was to see if we could make a difference in one of the major risk factors for heart disease."
The professor reported her team's results at a news conference today (March 19) at an American Heart Association meeting in Santa Fe, N.M.
Other investigators, including schools of medicine, nursing and public health faculty, were Dr. Robert G. McMurray, professor of physical education; Dr. Shrikant Bangdiwala, research associate professor of biostatistics; Dr. Amy Levine, assistant professor of pediatrics; Shibing Deng, a biostatistician in nursing; and project director Chyrise B. Bradley, research assistant professor of nursing.
The study is part of the larger continuing Cardiovascular Health in
Children study, a
Contact: David L. Williamson
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill