Over a QUARTER of 20-somethings have high cholesterol: Massive study lays bare ... trends now
More than a quarter of 20-somethings now have high cholesterol, a massive study suggests.
Experts today admitted they were 'shocked' at how unhealthy Britain is on the back of the NHS-backed project.
Analysis involving just over 220,000 Brits revealed swathes are unknowingly living with high blood pressure or cholesterol.
Both are major causes of heart attacks and strokes.
Yet both are easily treated with drugs and lifestyle changes, such as losing weight and giving up smoking.
Results from the Our Future Health project demonstrating levels of high cholesterol in the population based on a sample of 227,592 volunteers. Source: Our Future Health
Experts warn Britain's live of a cheeky takeaway could be behind a worrying trend where younger groups of Brits are developing high cholesterol levels traditionally seen in older demographics
Two-thirds (67 per cent) of 50-somethings had high cholesterol — making them the generation most likely to have blocked blood vessels.
This was higher than the results for Brits in their 60s (63 per cent), 70s (48 per cent), and 80s (39 per cent).
Traditionally high cholesterol risk increased with age, peaking in the 60s and 70s.
Obesity experts blamed society's reliance on takeaways and processed foods for the shift.
Tam Fry, from the National Obesity Forum, told The Daily Telegraph: 'We are seeing increasingly worrying consequences for a generation which has grown reliant on highly processed foods and regular takeaways.
Cholesterol is a fatty substance that is vital for the normal functioning of the body.
But too much can cause it to build up in the arteries, restricting blood flow to the heart, brain and rest of the body.
This raises the risk of angina, heart attacks, stroke and blood clots.
Cholesterol is made in the liver and is carried in the blood by proteins.
The first - high-density lipoprotein (HDL) - carries cholesterol from cells to the liver where it is broken down or passed as waste. This is 'good cholesterol'.
'Bad cholesterol' - low-density lipoprotein (LDL) - carries cholesterol to cells, with excessive amounts then building in the artery walls.
High cholesterol can be genetic but it is also linked to a diet rich in saturated fat, as well as smoking, diabetes, high blood pressure and a family history of stroke or heart disease.
Blood cholesterol is measured in units called millimoles per litre of blood, often shortened to mmol/L.
A healthy adult's overall level should be 5mmol/L or less, while their LDL level should be no more than 3mmol/L. An ideal level of HDL is above 1mmol/L.
Cholesterol can be lowered by eating a healthy, low-fat diet; not smoking; and exercising regularly.
If these do not help, cholesterol-lowering medication like statins may be prescribed.
'We've already seen these trends having an impact on staggering obesity levels, now we can see it on cholesterol.