How many people in the US are metabolically healthy?

While the recent pandemic has eclipsed all but one health topic from the media, political and medical communities, the gradual return to the “new normal” unveils a challenge of colossal proportions to help the growing number of people affected by poor metabolic health.

There is yet no consensus around the definition, so there could be many ways to determine what part of the US population is in good “metabolic health”

Araújo et al. (1) rang the alarm bell with their 2019 publication, stating that only 1 in 8 Americans could be considered as metabolically healthy.

 The definition used by Araújo for metabolic health is anyone meeting the following five criteria, without the help of any medication:

·        Waist circumference <102/88 cm in men/women;

·        Systolic blood pressure <120 mmHg and Diastolic blood pressure <80 mmHg;

·        Blood glucose <100 mg/dL and Glycated hemoglobin <5.7% ;

·        Triglycerides <150 mg/dL;

·        HDL-Cholesterol ≥40/50 mg/dL in men/women.

Even when isolating those with an optimal body weight (BMI >18.5 and <24.9), they still found that metabolic health was present in only 31.1% to 33.5% of people. This data thus discredits the simplistic theory that weight management is enough to ensure proper metabolic health.

What is the toll of poor metabolic health?

A recent publication evaluated the main causes of death in the US during the height of the pandemic, from March 2020 to October 2021 (2). Over the period, COVID-19 was determined as the cause of 697 000 deaths. In comparison, heart diseases and stroke were responsible for a combined 1 418 000 deaths over that same period of time.

While poor metabolic health contributes to heart and vascular diseases, COVID-19 also shed a new light on the link between poor metabolic health and poor immunity. The CDC has a long list of medical conditions associated with higher risk for severe COVID-19, including Type I and II diabetes, heart conditions, obesity and chronic liver diseases (3). These metabolic conditions, although not the cause of death, may have however increased the death toll attributable to COVID-19.

What is the root cause of metabolic health?

According to Metabolic Syndrome Canada (4), most components of metabolic health are based on the proper function of insulin inside the body. The proper control of blood glucose, triglycerides, cholesterol and waistline are direct consequences of optimal insulin function.

The most important site of action of insulin is in the muscle. There, insulin ensures the optimal uptake of circulating glucose for allowing energy production and storage of glucose as glycogen for later use. Preserving optimal insulin action helps ensure the muscles continue to play their important role after each meal to help keep blood glucose in a healthy range.

Insulin also has an impact on adipose tissue (body fat). After meals, insulin binds to receptors on fat cells to prevent them from breaking down stored fat by action of the enzyme Hormone Sensitive Lipase (HSL). This temporary stoppage in HSL action is important to prevent excessive release of glycerol and fatty acids in the blood. These two components are normally converted into triglycerides by the liver, ultimately contributing to blood lipids and cholesterol components. Here again, preserving optimal insulin signaling helps ensure a healthy balance of blood lipids.

While insulin helps with the balance of blood glucose and lipids, it also has a role in blood pressure regulation. In fact, our kidneys normally filter out excessive sodium, but transporters located on the luminal face of proximal and distal tubules may reabsorb sodium that was originally filtered out. These various transporters are all stimulated by high insulin levels, a situation that prevails when insulin signalling is not optimal (5). The resulting increase in blood sodium negatively affects blood pressure.

What’s the bottom line?

There is a tremendous market opportunity to develop natural, non-pharmaceutical options to help support metabolic health. With 88% of the US population in dire need, dietary supplements may provide precious support in reaching and maintaining metabolic health. Ensuring optimal insulin function should be prioritized as it may act on numerous components of metabolic health.

 InnoVactiv has a recognized expertise in metabolic health. Would you be interested in learning more about this topic? Contact us.

Would you like to learn more? 

This video is also interesting if you are interested by metabolic health :  

References on metabolic health :

1)     Araújo J, Cai J, Stevens J. Prevalence of
Optimal Metabolic Health in American Adults: National Health and Nutrition
Examination Survey 2009-2016. Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2019 Feb;17(1):46-52.
doi: 10.1089/met.2018.0105. Epub 2018 Nov 27. PMID: 30484738.

2)     Shiels MS, Haque AT, Berrington de González A,
Freedman ND. Leading Causes of Death in the US During the COVID-19 Pandemic,
March 2020 to October 2021.
JAMA Intern Med. 2022 Aug 1;182(8):883-886.
doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2022.2476. PMID: 35788262; PMCID: PMC9257676.



5)     Horita S, Seki G, Yamada H, Suzuki M, Koike K,
Fujita T. Insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension, and renal sodium
Int J Hypertens. 2011;2011:391762. doi: 10.4061/2011/391762.
Epub 2011 Apr 12. PMID: 21629870; PMCID: PMC3095959.

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