Weight Change Significantly Affects HDL Cholesterol Concentrations

Body weight scale, BMI, measurement
Body weight scale, BMI, measurement
Researchers sought to determine a link between changes in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol and body mass index.

Increases in body weight are associated with decreases in high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C) concentrations, with changes in very large HDL particles providing better insight into this association than HDL-C, according to study results published in the Journal of Clinical Lipidology.

In addition to measurement of body mass index (BMI), researchers drew blood for total cholesterol (enzymatic colorimetric), triglycerides (enzymatic colorimetric), HDL-C (enzymatic colorimetric), very low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) (enzymatic colorimetric), and apolipoprotein A-1 (immunoturbidimetric).

Investigators measured change in apolipoprotein A-1 concentrations in 10 HDL sub-fractions in a total of 14,121 women and 13,969 men.

Change in BMI was associated with significant changes in very large HDL-C (mean slope, women: −0.39±0.07; men: −0.51±0.05), medium HDL-C (women: 0.18±0.04; men: 0.19±0.04), and small HDL-C (women: 0.14±0.03; men: 0.15±0.04 mg/dL per kg/m2). Changes in very large HDL-C according to percentage change in baseline BMI were almost twice as large as the changes in HDL-C according to BMI change in men (−1.53% vs −0.77%) and women (−0.79% vs −0.42%).

In healthy-weight participants who became overweight, HDL decreased significantly, with noticeable changes observed in overweight patients who became class I or class II obese, class I obese patients who became class II obese, and class II obese patients who became class III obese. Conversely, HDL-C increased with reductions in body weight.

Lack of data on lifestyle, general health, medical treatment, and waist circumference represented likely limitations of the analysis.

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The researchers concluded that the study’s “results reinforce the conceptual framework that HDL metabolism is affected favorably by weight loss and adversely by weight gain.”


Dansinger M, Williams PT, Superko HR, Asztalos BF, Schaefer EJ. Effects of weight change on HDL-cholesterol and its subfractions in over 28,000 men and women [published online December 18, 2018]. J Clin Lipidol. doi:10.1016/j.jacl.2018.12.001