Incorporating Metabolic Risk Factor Education into iCater
Metabolic syndrome is when three or more risk factors co-occur. The combination of hypertension, high blood glucose, abnormal cholesterol/triglyceride levels and obesity can result in the increased risk of heart disease, Type II diabetes, stroke, and death.
How does metabolic syndrome affect people experiencing homelessness?
- According to the American Heart Association, 34% of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome.
- According to the Boston Public Health Commission:
- 43% of unhoused adults in Boston reported their health was fair or poor compared to 13% of housed adults.
- 42.9% of unhoused adults had heart disease compared to 28.5% of housed adults.
- 12.3% of unhoused adults had diabetes compared to 9.2% of housed adults.
- 8.6% of adults who were out of work reported having diabetes compared to 5.6% of employed adults.
- 29.5% of adults who were out of work reported having hypertension compared to 19.6% of employed adults.
- Neighborhoods including Dorchester and Mattapan had the highest rates of Diabetes and Hypertension while Fenway and Back Bay were among the lowest.
What are common barriers to a healthier lifestyle?
- The neighborhood you live in
- Food insecurity and poor access to healthy foods
- Poor access to healthcare
- Limited opportunity for education
- Behavioral health issues*
- Access to transportation
- Employment and lack of job opportunities
How can we prevent metabolic syndrome and its risk factor components?
- Decrease sodium, saturated fat and sugar dietary intake while increasing a Mediterranean-style diet
- Access food resources such as Greater Boston Food Bank, farmers markets and community fridges
- Quality sleep/mindfulness and meditation practices
- Avoid smoking and alcohol
- Food security programs like Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC)
- Nutrition Education (U.S.D.A MyPlate)
- Enter Workforce Development programs ex: iCater to assist with obtaining a job and enhancing finances
*For behavioral health resources, check out the Massachusetts Behavioral Health Help Line.
By Job Training Program Instructor, Melanie Cevetello, RD, LDN