Most Americans Have Poor Cardiometabolic Health – The Hill

History at a glance


  • Researchers assessed Americans on five health factors, including blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, obesity, overweight and obesity, and whether they had heart disease.

  • They found that only 6.8 percent had excellent levels on all five indicators.

  • For the purpose of the study, the researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of about 55,000 people over the age of 20 from 1999 to 2018, focusing on the five components of health rather than the presence of disease.

Fewer than 7 percent of Americans are in optimal cardiometabolic health, according to new research.

Tufts University researchers assessed Americans on five components of health, including blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol, overweight and obesity, and whether they had heart disease. They found that only 6.8 percent had excellent levels on all five indicators.

“These numbers are staggering. It is deeply problematic that in the United States, one of the wealthiest nations in the world, fewer than 1 in 15 adults have optimal cardiometabolic health,” said study lead author Megan O’Hearn

“We need a complete overhaul of our health system, food system and built environment because this is a crisis for everyone, not just one section of the population.”

For the purpose of the study, the researchers looked at a nationally representative sample of about 55,000 people over the age of 20 from 1999 to 2018, focusing on the five components of health rather than the presence of disease.

“We don’t just want to get rid of disease,” O’Hearn continued. “We want to achieve optimal health and well-being.”

The team also found several key health disparities along socioeconomic, racial and gender lines. The researchers note, for example, that between 1999 and 2018, cardiometabolic health declined for Mexican Americans, other Latinos, non-Hispanic black Americans, while it rose slightly among non-Hispanic white Americans.

“It’s really problematic. “Social determinants of health such as food and nutrition security, social and community context, economic stability, and structural racism place individuals of various educational levels, races, and ethnicities at increased risk for health problems,” said lead study author Dariush Mozaffarian.

“This highlights the other important work being done at the Friedman School and Tufts University to better understand and address the root causes of nutrition and health disparities in the US and around the world.”

O’Hearn added that addressing this health crisis will require multiple sectors coming together to formulate solutions, along with the political will to enact change.

“This is a health crisis we’ve been facing for some time,” O’Hearn said. “There is now a growing economic, social and ethical imperative to pay significantly more attention to this problem than it has previously received.”


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A separate study using the American Heart Association’s new Life Essential 8 Scores found that only 1 in five Americans have ideal heart health. Measures of heart health include diet, physical activity, nicotine exposure, sleep duration, body mass index, blood lipids, blood glucose, and blood pressure to determine an adult’s overall cardiovascular health.

An adult’s cardiovascular score — ranging from 1 to 100 — is calculated by adding the sums for the eight metrics, then dividing by eight. Scores below 50 indicate poor cardiovascular health, while scores between 50 and 79 mean a person is considered moderately cardiovascular. The rest are classified as in optimal health.

One study used disease data from the 2013-2018 US National Health and Nutrition Examination Surveys to measure the heart health of more than 23,400 US adults and children without cardiovascular disease. It found that 80 percent of US adults fall into the poor or moderate categories.

The average health score for both adults and children was below 66. Nearly 20 percent of US adults had good cardiovascular health; 62.5 percent were classified as moderate.

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Posted on July 05, 2022

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