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Cardiometabolic risk factors affect rising numbers of US adults

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January 24, 2019

The frequency of obesity and diabetes in the U.S. adult population rose by roughly 6 percentage points and 3 percentage points, respectively, between 2003 and 2014, according to findings published in Obesity.

Peter P. Toth

“Our efforts at stemming the tide of new-onset obesity and diabetes are failing,” Peter P. Toth, MD, PhD, director of preventive cardiology at CGH Medical Center in Sterling, Illinois, and professor of clinical family and community medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, told Endocrine Today. “Both of these conditions greatly increase risk for multiple morbidities, which incurs substantial socioeconomic cost and human suffering, and for premature mortality.”

Toth and colleagues’ estimates are based on National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from adults who took part in the survey from 2003 to 2014 (n = 32,188). Date from a subset of that population (n = 13,646) were used to assess lipid trends.

Mean BMI increased both for men (0.7 kg/m2 increase to 28.8 kg/m2) and women (1.2 kg/m2 increase to 29.5 kg/m2) during the study period. Mean HDL levels remained relatively consistent in both men (48 mg/dL) and women (58 mg/dL). Conversely, median triglyceride levels fell from 122 mg/dL to 98 mg/dL in men and from 110 mg/dL to 90 mg/dL in women.

According to the researchers, the prevalence of adults who met the threshold for overweight or obesity rose from 65.2% in 2003-2004 to 69% by 2013-2014. Obesity prevalence grew to an even greater extent, rising from 31.7% in 2003-2004 to 37.5% by 2013-2014. Rates of abdominal obesity also rose, increasing from 59% in the first survey to 64% in the last for men and from 40% to 44% in women.

In addition to obesity, prevalence of diabetes increased for the U.S. adult population, according to the study. The researchers estimated that 21.2 million U.S. adults had diabetes in 2003-2004 and that that figure increased to 30.2 million by the end of the study period. Those figures equated to a rise in prevalence from 10.3% to 13.2%.

“The costs associated with obesity, metabolic syndrome and diabetes will continue to rise in an unsustainable manner,” Toth said. “More needs to be done to educate people about obesity and inactivity being the most important risk factors for metabolic syndrome, insulin resistance and new-onset diabetes. Patients also need to understand that during the early stages of diabetes, the impairment in glucose metabolism can usually still be reversed with lifestyle modification and weight loss.” – by Phil Neuffer

Disclosures: Toth reports he has served on speakers bureaus for Amarin, AstraZeneca, Kowa, Merck, Novo Nordisk, Regeneron and Sanofi, and he is a consultant for Amgen, AstraZeneca, Kowa, Merck and Novo Nordisk. Please see the study for all other authors’ relevant financial disclosures.

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