Objectives: Although educational achievement is positively related to levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) among White adults, there is an inverse association among Blacks. We assessed whether this interaction could be attributed to differences in the relation of education to correlates of HDL-C.
Methods: Cross-sectional analyses were based on data from 8391 White and 995 Black adults who participated in the Second National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
Results: Associations between education and HDL-C levels varied from negative (Black men), to nearly nonexistent (White men and Black women), to positive (White women). Mean HDL-C levels were higher among Blacks than among Whites, but differences varied according to educational achievement. Among adults with less than 9 years of education, mean levels were 6 to 10 mg/dL higher among Blacks, but the radical difference was less than 1 mg/dL among adults with at least 16 years of education. About 20% to 40% of these differences could be accounted for by obesity, alcohol consumption, and other characteristics.
Conclusions: Because of the implications for coronary heart disease risk, consideration should be given to behavioral characteristics associated with the interaction between race and educational achievement.