Metabolism and Risk – The Lancet Child & Adolescent Health
Metabolic epidemics have been developing for decades. They have not created sudden, disruptive effects, but their prevalence is vast, they pose risks to cardiovascular health and premature death, and multiple interventions have been advocated, yet they remain epidemic.
The complications of diabetes and the risk of cardiovascular disease make it important to put the metabolic syndrome at the forefront of thinking about the health of young people. Some question the clinical value of diagnosing the metabolic syndrome, but tracking its prevalence and setting specific national targets will be helpful in assessing changes in current and potential health. Metabolic health could provide a useful focal point for policies and interventions. In turn, these interventions must focus on one of the components of the metabolic syndrome: obesity.
Unlike epidemics caused by infectious diseases, such as COVID-19, metabolic epidemics have no single identifiable cause against which to direct measures. They have multiple risk factors and single-component interventions are not effective. The rise in obesity, type 2 diabetes and metabolic syndrome has been accompanied by the growing dominance of sedentary activities in the lives of young people and changing food environments in which highly processed foods and beverages , nutrient-poor and energy-rich have become more available, accessible and desirable, linked to pervasive commercialization and economic growth. It has been established that interventions need to be multifaceted, multisectoral and appropriate to age and cultural and geographical context, but we are not on track to achieve the necessary gains. Metabolic health is at the heart of human health and well-being, and efforts to take care of it must be made with zeal.
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