Better cholesterol levels for US children as fast food manufacturers cut trans fats

McDonald’s and Starbucks big part of dietary improvements, says study

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With all the worrying facts surrounding childhood obesity, it’s a relief to hear some good news about children’s health for a change.

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A study published this week in the Journal of the American Medical Association reports that cholesterol levels in US children has improved in the past two decades, according to a report on Bloomberg.

Researchers a the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found the prevalence of elevated cholesterol dropped to 8.1% for children aged 6 to 19 from 2007 to 2010 compared to 11% from 1988 to 1994.

Although scientists didn’t analysis the cause, Brian Kit, lead author of the study, said lower fat intake and more exercise may have led to the improvement.

The most important contribution, however, may be down to food companies rethinking products and reducing or eliminating trans fat, according to Sarah de Ferranti, director of the preventive cardiology clinic at Boston’s Children’s Hospital.

McDonald’s and Starbucks are two of the biggest companies to have reduced their use of artificial trans fat, which has been linked to high cholesterol and heart disease. This has led to improvements in people’s diets without them making conscious choices, Sarah said.

“There is an increased awareness about the harms in trans fat, so manufacturers have removed them. It’s a lot harder for us to make the decision to eat healthy or to exercise.”

Trans fat is most commonly found in treated cooking oils and processed foods and is used to improve shelf life and taste.

Sarah also warned that although there had been some improvement, childhood obesity, which is tied to high cholesterol, was still a big problem.

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