Metabolic Diseases, which include Obesity, Type 2 Diabetes and Metabolic Syndrome, are significant public health concerns in North America. These conditions are characterized by disruptions in the normal metabolic processes, and can lead to an increased risk of Arthritis, Alzheimer’s Disease, Cancer, Cardiovascular Disease, Stroke, and other serious health issues. Not everyone with metabolic disease is overweight or obese.

Statistics and Incidence

Everyone understands that smoking is the number one environmental risk factor for developing Cancer but what most people do not realize is that obesity is the number two risk factor for Cancer. Metabolic Disease affects 80% of the leading causes of death in North America.

Obesity in North America

  • United States: Approximately 42.4% of adults are classified as obese. Over 70% are either overweight or obese
  • Canada: About 27% of adults are classified as obese. Over 65% are either overweight or obese

Obesity is a marker of metabolic problems. It leads to a high risk for heart disease, strokes, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer and Alzheimer’s disease (the most common cause of dementia). Obesity is an insulin problem (controlling blood sugar) NOT just a calorie problem. Obesity is NOT a lack of will power.

Type 2 Diabetes in North America

  • United States: Around 34.2 million people (10.5% of the population) have diabetes.
  • Canada: Approximately 3.7 million people (9.3% of the population) have diabetes.

Type 2 Diabetes has become the most prevalent type of diabetes in North America (over 90%). According to the Center for Disease Control, one in three Americans and Canadians are either diabetic or pre-diabetic. Most don’t know they have the disease. About 80% of diabetics die of heart disease. Not all diabetics are overweight or obese.

Metabolic Syndrome in North America

  • United States: Nearly 1 in 3 adults have metabolic syndrome.
  • Canada: Nearly 1 in 5 adults have metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic Syndrome is the syndrome when and individual has 3 or more of the following: Obesity, High Blood sugar, High Blood Pressure, Low LDL cholesterol, High Triglycerides.

Risk Factors

Several factors contribute to the high incidence of metabolic diseases in North America, including:

  • Diet: High consumption of processed foods, sugary beverages, carbohydrates, high-calorie diets and high fructose corn syrup as a sweetener in foods.
  • Physical Inactivity: Sedentary lifestyles with minimal physical activity.
  • Genetics: Family history of diabetes, obesity, cardiovascular disease.
  • Socioeconomic Factors: Lower socioeconomic status is associated with higher rates of metabolic diseases due to limited access to healthy foods and healthcare.
  • Obesity: Excess body weight, especially abdominal fat.
  • Hormonal imbalance: Especially after menopause and andropause suboptimal hormones can lead to a variety of health problems. Optimizing them is usually of benefit.
  • Age: As we age our metabolism changes and insulin resistance increases.
  • Chronic Stress: Stress can lead to metabolic problems through elevated cortisol levels.
  • Sleep: Non-restorative sleep, sleep disorders including sleep apnea may impact on metabolism and the ability to burn fat as fuel.
  • Chemical Obesogens: There is a believe that there are a variety of chemicals in our environment that may impact on human obesity.

Health Implications

Metabolic diseases pose significant health risks, including but not limited:

  • Cardiovascular Disease: Increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, and other cardiovascular conditions.
  • Diabetes Complications: Nerve damage, kidney disease, kidney disease, heart disease, strokes, dementia, amputations and blindness can result from poorly controlled diabetes.
  • Liver Disease: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is common in individuals with metabolic syndrome and obesity.
  • Kidney Disease: Number one cause of kidney failure is diabetes
  • Cancer: Certain cancers, such as breast, colorectal, and pancreatic cancer, are linked to obesity and metabolic syndrome.
  • Hypertension: High blood pressure is commonly associated with metabolic diseases, leading to increased cardiovascular risk.

Treatment and Management

Lifestyle Modifications

  • Dietary Changes:
    • Healthy Eating: Adopt a diet rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains, legumes, nuts, lean proteins and healthy fats.
    • Reduce Unhealthy Fats: Limit intake of seed oils and trans fats.
    • Reduce carbohydrates and sugars
    • Avoid artificial sweeteners: They can drive-up insulin and insulin resistance. Sometime more than actual sugar.
    • Fibre Intake: Increase dietary fibre helps to improve blood sugar control and reduce cholesterol.
    • Fasting: Fasting can benefit the body in adults in reducing mTor activation.
  • Physical Activity:
    • Engage in at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic exercise per week. Preferably make physical activity a daily part of your schedule. Scheduling it daily incorporates it into your life and not another thing you must add on to your already busy schedule.
    • Include strength training exercises at least twice a week. Increased strength and muscle mass equals increased longevity.
    • Include stability and balance exercises at least twice a week
  • Weight Management:
    • Aim to lose 5-10% of body weight over 6-12 months through dietary changes specifically reducing sugars and carbohydrates.
    • Obesity may be a normal response to an abnormal situation (There are no periods of scarcity anymore in North America)

Medical Treatments

  • Medications:
    • Blood Pressure control: ACE inhibitors, ARBs, calcium channel blockers, or diuretics.
    • Cholesterol control: Statins, Fibrates, or Niacin.
    • Blood sugar Control: Metformin, GLP-1 receptor agonists, or SGLT2 inhibitors. Insulin may be necessary to maintain some blood sugar levels.
  • Screening and knowing your Biomarkers:
    • Regular check-ups to monitor blood pressure, blood sugar, and lipid levels.
    • Regular check-ups to screen for cardiovascular, nerve, kidney and eye disease in pre-diabetics and diabetics.
    • Regular check-ups of your hormone levels (thyroid, testosterone, estradiol, progesterone, DHEA etc)
    • Regular check-ups of your nutraceutical supplement levels.

Metabolic Diseases are rampant in North America and pose significant health risks and mayhem. By addressing lifestyle factors (Exercise, Nutrition, Hormones and Stopping unhealthy behaviours, Screening biomarkers, Sleeping efficiently, Stress moderation, Supplement use and adhering to appropriate conventional medical treatments, individuals can significantly reduce their risk of serious health complications and improve their overall quality of life. Metabolic diseases are a 21st century scourge that is easily within our grasp to reduce or eliminate. The sooner the better.