Obesity is associated with elevated triglyceride (TG) levels, reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), and an increase in the more atherogenic, small, dense LDL particles. Despite common belief, obesity causes only a small mean elevation in total and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) values. There is strong evidence that weight loss through lifestyle measures will reduce TG and increase HDL-C levels. This weight loss is generally accompanied by a decrease in total cholesterol and LDL-C, in part because the same lifestyle changes in diet that decrease weight also decrease LDL-C. The favorable effect on lipids from aerobic exercise is most noticeable when accompanied by weight loss. NHLBI recommends weight loss to reduce elevated total cholesterol, LDL-C, and TG levels and to raise HDL-C in overweight/obese persons.

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