Several guidelines for cardiometabolic risk factor identification and management have been released in recent years, but there are no estimates of current prevalence of metabolic health among adults in the United States. We estimated the proportion of American adults with optimal cardiometabolic health, using different guidelines.
Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2009–2016 were analyzed (n = 8721). Using the most recent guidelines, metabolic health was defined as having optimal levels of waist circumference (WC <102/88 cm for men/women), glucose (fasting glucose <100 mg/dL and hemoglobin A1c <5.7%), blood pressure (systolic <120 and diastolic <80 mmHg), triglycerides (<150 mg/dL), and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (≥40/50 mg/dL for men/women), and not taking any related medication.
Changing from ATP III (Adult Treatment Panel III) guidelines to more recent cut points decreased the proportion of metabolically healthy Americans from 19.9% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 18.3–21.5) to 12.2% (95% CI: 10.9–13.6). Dropping WC from the definition increased the percentage of adults with optimal metabolic health to 17.6%. Characteristics associated with greater prevalence of metabolic health were female gender, youth, more education, never smoking, practicing vigorous physical activity, and low body mass index. Less than one-third of normal weight adults were metabolically healthy and the prevalence decreased to 8.0% and 0.5% in overweight and obese individuals, respectively.
Prevalence of metabolic health in American adults is alarmingly low, even in normal weight individuals. The large number of people not achieving optimal levels of risk factors, even in low-risk groups, has serious implications for public health.