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Sports Med. 2002;32(5):297-307.

Blood lipids and lipoproteins in child and adolescent athletes.

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Division of Kinesiology and Health, Pediatric Health and Performance Laboratory, University of Wyoming, Laramie, Wyoming 82070, USA.


The purpose of this review is to describe the age- and gender-associated variation in blood lipids of young athletes and examine the association between training status, peak oxygen consumption (VO(2peak)), and body fatness with blood lipids in young athletes. Results from cross-sectional studies suggest similar levels of total cholesterol (TC), lower levels of triglycerides (TG) and low-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), and higher levels of high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C) in young athletes compared with controls. Longitudinal data show that the age- and gender-associated variation in blood lipids in young distance runners is similar to youth in the general population; TC and LDL-C remain stable, HDL-C declines during adolescence (especially in males), and TG increases with age. Considerable heterogeneity exists in the blood lipids of young athletes, including dyslipidaemic values. Age, sexual maturity status, training status, VO(2peak) and body fatness are determinants of blood lipids in young athletes. VO(2peak) is a significant predictor of HDL-C independent of body fatness. Further research is warranted to examine: the prevalence rates of dyslipidaemia in various sport groups; and the complex interactions of genes, biological maturation, exercise training, dietary intake and composition, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue properties on lipoprotein metabolism in young athletes.

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