Are you metabolically healthy? Are you sure?
Many of us think of ourselves as healthy, even if we know we weigh more than we should. If we take away the scale and focus on other, more reliable markers of metabolic health, how do we measure up? It turns out that although some overweight people are indeed metabolically healthy, many more normal weight people are metabolically compromised. So the collective picture does not look good.
How bad is it? A new study looked at five “scale-free” measures of metabolic health and demonstrated that just 12.5% of American adults qualify as healthy across all five metrics.
What measures were the study authors evaluating?
- waist circumference
- blood sugar (fasting glucose and HbA1c)
- blood pressure
- HDL cholesterol
If this list looks familiar, that is because it is a close match to the criteria for determining whether or not a patient has metabolic syndrome. In most definitions, if a patient fails three of the five criteria, he or she receives a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome.
The new analysis was more strict, demanding that individuals pass on all five criteria to be deemed metabolically healthy. The authors note that even if you take away waist circumference, just 17.5% of adults meet each of the other four criteria for metabolic health. For those of normal weight, this prevalence is higher, but not as high as you might think: just 33.5%. For those who are overweight or obese, this prevalence is even lower: 15.0% and 6.8%, respectively.
Although the status quo is grim, there is hope. A low-carb diet typically improves all five of these measures of metabolic health. Check out the science that supports low carb, and then check out our guides to making low carb simple.