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‘This is a crisis’: Researchers sound warning about Americans’ cardiometabolic health

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Fewer than 1 out of 14 U.S. adults have optimal heart and metabolic health, results of a recent study from Tufts University show.

Using 1999-2018 data from more than 55,000 U.S. adults in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, Tufts researchers evaluated five components of cardiometabolic health: severe levels of obesity or overweight, blood sugar, cholesterol, and blood pressure, as well as the presence or absence of cardiovascular disease (heart attack, stroke, etc.).

Only 6.8% of the participants had “optimal cardiometabolic health” in 2017-2018. Looking at trends over the course of the two decades, the percentage of participants with optimal weight and blood glucose levels decreased significantly. For the former, the percentage sank to 24 in 2018 from 33.8 in 1999, while the latter dipped to 36.9 from 59.4.


“These numbers are striking,” said lead study author Meghan O’Hearn, a doctoral candidate at Tufts. “It’s deeply problematic that in the United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, fewer than 1 in 14 adults have optimal cardiometabolic health. We need a complete overhaul of our health care system, food system and built environment, because this is a crisis for everyone, not just one segment of the population.”

The study was published online in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology.

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