Are You Metabolically Healthy?

According to a 2018 study published in the journal Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders, researchers from the University of Carolina said only 1 in 8 adults in the U.S. have optimal metabolic health. This article examines the reason for poor metabolic health and how you can boost yours.

Why Are There Low Rates of Metabolic Health?

In the medical community, there is no standard definition for metabolic health. While the 2018 study was the first on metabolic health in the U.S., other researchers have examined similar data. They have determined that 23 percent of adults have metabolic syndrome. The condition happens when someone does not meet at least three of five ideal measurements. These parameters include glucose levels and blood pressure.

The latest reports see patients as metabolically healthy only if they met ideal levels of all five criteria. Over the years, what is seen as optimal has become more strict. In the report, the researchers utilized “the most recent and restrictive” cutoffs. These were gotten from government agencies and scientific societies, driving down the prevalence of metabolic health.

Dr. Rosemary Ku, a dual board-certified physician, said one of the major challenges was the blood pressure threshold. She also said the standard for metabolic syndrome was 130/85, but the study considered 120/80 optimal.

Dr. Rekha Kumar, an endocrinologist at New York-Presbyterian and Weill Cornell Medicine, said they did not use strict guidelines to label patients with diseases they didn’t have. Instead, he said it was to make people understand their health risks.

Interestingly, the addition of waist circumference greatly impacted the findings. For instance, it brought the portion of people with optimal metabolic health from 17.6% to 12.2%.

How Do You Improve Your Metabolic Health?

If you have poor metabolism, you have a higher chance of developing heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. You can begin understanding your risks by getting a regular checkup. Dr. Ku said you could ask your doctor whether it would be appropriate to be screened for chronic disease risk. She also said they could easily order a routine lab screening examining your blood sugar and cholesterol.


By staying in optimal metabolic health, you can save yourself from future health complications. You can change lifestyle or diet by quitting smoking or maintaining a healthy weight. You can also quit smoking and exercise regularly throughout the week. Finally, you can improve your sleep hygiene by getting up to 7 to 8 hours of rest.