Researchers examined five aspects of Americans’ health: blood pressure, blood sugar, blood cholesterol levels, cardiovascular diseases and adiposity. As of 2017-2018, they discovered that just 6.8 percent of persons in the United States have ideal levels of all five components. A substantial deterioration in trends was also seen for obesity and blood glucose levels between the years 1999 and 2018, among these five components. In 1999, one adult out of every three had ideal levels of adiposity (neither overweight nor obese), but by 2018, that figure had dropped to one adult out of every four. In a similar vein, although in 1999 three out of every five individuals did not suffer from diabetes or prediabetes, in 2018 this number has dropped to less than four out of every ten persons.
The study’s lead author Meghan O’Hearn was deeply concerned by the results of the study:
These numbers are striking. It’s 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. We need a complete overhaul of our healthcare system, food system, and built environment, because this is a crisis for everyone, not just one segment of the population.
In the course of the research, a nationally representative sample of approximately 55,000 people aged 20 years or older who participated in the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey at some point between the years 1999 and 2018 was analyzed. These participants came from the 10 most recent cycles of the survey. Rather than only focusing on the presence or absence of illness, the study team looked at three degrees of cardiometabolic health: optimum, intermediate, and poor. Additionally, they looked at each component individually.
The researchers also found significant health inequalities across persons of various ages, education levels, races & ethnicities, and sexes. For instance, persons with lower levels of education had a probability that was one-half that of adults with higher levels of education when it came to having optimum cardiometabolic health, and Mexican Americans had a probability that was one-third that of adults who were non-Hispanic White.