Americans may be too fat, but at least their cholesterol is low. For the first time in nearly 50 years, the average cholesterol level for U.S. adults is in the ideal range, the government reported Wednesday.
Results from a national survey that included blood tests found the total average cholesterol level dropped to 199 last year. Experts consider 200 and lower to be ideal.
Growing use of cholesterol-lowering pills is believed to be a key reason for the improvement, experts said. When the survey began in 1960, the average cholesterol was at 222.
The CDC, which runs the cholesterol survey, collects data in two-year intervals. The new results are based on a national sample of about 4,500 people 20 and older in 2005-06. The new level of 199 compares with 204 in 1999-2000.
Researchers also found the percentage of adults with high cholesterol, 240 or higher, dropped to 16%, down from 20% in the early 1990s.
The most pronounced declines were in men 40 and older and women 60 and older.