Serum total cholesterol: HDL cholesterol ratios in US white and black adults by selected demographic and socioeconomic variables (HANES II)

Am J Public Health. 1991 Aug;81(8):1038-43. doi: 10.2105/ajph.81.8.1038.


Background: Framingham Study findings suggest that total cholesterol (TC):High density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) ratio is a useful summary of the joint contribution of TC and HDL-C to coronary heart disease (CHD) risk. Information on the distribution of TC:HDL-C in the US population is limited to selected populations and the relationship of the ratio distribution and its correlates has received little attention.

Method: TC/HDL-C ratios were examined in a representative sample of the United States adult population ages 20 to 74 years, between February 1976 and February 1980 during NHANES II, using stratification and multivariate regression analyses.

Results: Age-adjusted mean ratios were higher in men compared with women and were higher in Whites compared with Blacks. White men had the highest TC/HDL-C mean ratios. These relationships remained after stratification by age, education, body mass index, alcohol use, cigarette smoking, and physical activity. Using multivariate analyses, the ratios were positively related to BMI, age, and smoking; and negatively related to female sex, alcohol use, being Black, and physical activity.

Conclusions: Using a ratio reference point of greater than or equal to 4.5 from the Framingham study, at least an estimated 44 million persons ages 25 to 74 years in the US were found to be at higher risk of developing coronary heart disease.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Alcohol Drinking
  • Black People*
  • Black or African American
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol / blood*
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood*
  • Educational Status
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Smoking
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • United States
  • White People


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol