Incorporating Metabolic Risk Factor Education into iCater

Metabolic Risk Factor VideoMetabolic 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