93% of American Adults are Unhealthy
A recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) claims only 6.8% of American adults are metabolically healthy. The study further breaks down the following statistics:
- Only 0.4% of those over the age of 65 years were considered to have optimal health.
- Only 17% of those between the ages of 20–34 have optimal health.
This same study published in 2019 claimed that 88% of American adults had at least one feature of poor metabolic health. As a society, we are moving in the wrong direction. We continue to get sicker and heavier. Why? Simple ... the advice we've been given for decades is wrong. We've been told to count calories, eat less, workout harder and more often, fear meat, fear fat, eat more processed foods, especially whole wheat and grains, and the list goes on and on. We need to stop "being sold" on what to eat and start eating what our bodies were meant to eat.
Before I move on, I want to clear something up. Too many people assume that as long as they aren't morbidly obese, they're healthy. I've got news for you. Among those who are of normal weight, metabolic health is 'alarmingly low'. Look at the graph below. In 2020, according to the CDC, 31.9% of the US adult population had obesity. Now think about the statistic I mentioned earlier where less than 7% of Americans have optimal metabolic health. See how weight isn't the only determining factor?
The thought that 93% of our population is more vulnerable to developing Type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and other serious health issues, literally keeps me up at night. And unfortunately, as we get older, our risk goes up. But wait! It isn't going up because we're getting older, our risk is going up because the steps we need to take to restore our metabolic health aren't being done. Don't you for one second think that because you aren't in your 20s or 30s anymore, that this is just what happens. This is NOT what is supposed to happen and YES you can take control of your health and prevent, even reverse the damage.
So what is metabolic health?
When I talk about metabolic health, I am talking about how flexible your body is when it comes to converting food into fuel. When you have metabolic dysfunction, your body is unable to use what you eat for energy in your body. This leads to weight gain and chronic diseases such as fatty liver disease, pre-diabetes/diabetes, cardiovascular disease, cognitive decline, PCOS, fatigue, headaches, joint pain, and almost all non-infectious physical and mental chronic conditions.
- blood glucose
- high-density lipoprotein cholesterol
- blood pressure
- waist circumference
When was the last time you had a physical or blood work? If it's been more than a year, it's time to get it done. At least get a blood panel so you can see what your health markers are. Tell your doctor that you want to add a fasting insulin and/or a c-peptide to your blood work. Very few doctors will test for these, so be sure to tell them you want those included.
NOTE: The NHANES covered a time period between 1999-2018, preceding the COVID-19 pandemic, which has only worsened our risk of obesity and other chronic diseases.