In a recent study published in the journal PLOS ONEresearchers are examining the prevalence and association of metabolic conditions with health and sociodemographic factors during the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic and pre-pandemic periods.
Metabolic conditions such as obesity, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and cardiovascular disease are leading causes of morbidity and mortality worldwide. Additionally, metabolic disorders increase individual susceptibility to COVID-19 severity outcomes; however, there are limited data on the impact of COVID-19 on metabolic disorders.
Study: The prevalence of metabolic conditions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and its association with health and sociodemographic factors. Image Credit: Kristini / Shutterstock.com
About the study
In the current study, researchers determine the relationship between COVID-19 and metabolic conditions. They also assess the relationship between metabolic disorders in adults in the United States and the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic, including lack of physical activity, tobacco use, sociodemographic variables, and depression/anxiety.
A nationally representative sample of American adults was used to estimate the prevalence of metabolic disorders, including obesity, hypertension, and diabetes, in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods. The data was obtained from National Health Information Trends Surveys (HINTS) of 5,359 adults in 2019 (pre-pandemic) and 3,830 adults in 2020 (pandemic).
The 2019 survey was conducted between January and April 2019, while the 2020 survey was conducted between February 2020 and June 2020. In total, the two survey datasets included 9,303 adult individuals. In addition, socio-demographic characteristics including age, gender, ethnicity/race, marital status, education, and income were also analyzed.
Symptoms of depression/anxiety were analyzed using the Patient Health Questionnaire-4 (PHQ-4) in the surveys. Weighted prevalence of metabolic conditions was determined and multivariate logistic regression analyzes were performed to establish adjusted odds ratio (AOR) values. HINTS datasets were anonymized prior to analysis.
Diabetes and hypertension were self-reported by survey participants. Obesity was determined using body mass index (BMI) values, with BMI values over 30 being considered obese.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, more people with diabetes were reported at 18% compared to 17% in 2019. Comparatively, the number of people with hypertension and obesity remained broadly similar over the two periods . More people suffered from metabolic disorders during the pandemic period than during the pre-pandemic period at 56% and 55%, respectively.
Compared with non-smokers, former smokers were more likely to develop metabolic disorders in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods with AOR values of 1.4 and 1.6, respectively. People with mild depression/anxiety symptoms were more likely to develop metabolic disorders than those without such symptoms, with pre-pandemic and pandemic AOR values of 1.5 and 1.6, respectively.
A greater prevalence of metabolic disorders was observed during the pandemic period compared to the pre-pandemic period for people aged 35-49, as well as those aged 50-64. The prevalence of metabolic disorders increased among people aged 18 to 25, 26 to 34, and those 65 and older. Notably, the prevalence of metabolic disorders was higher among non-Hispanics than among Hispanics.
In the pre-pandemic period, compared to people aged 18-25, people aged 50-64 and over 65 had a significantly higher likelihood of developing metabolic disorders, with AOR values of 2 .6 and 4.8, respectively.
During the pandemic, the likelihood of developing metabolic disorders was significantly higher among people aged 26 to 34 (AOR 2.0), 35 to 49 (AOR 4.1), 50 to 64 ( AOR 6.2) and people aged 65 and over (AOR 7.8) than people aged 18-25.
During the pandemic, men were significantly more likely to develop metabolic disorders (AOR 1.3) than women. Additionally, non-Hispanic blacks were significantly more likely than non-Hispanic whites to develop metabolic disorders in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods, with AOR values of 2.0 and 2.1, respectively.
Performing at least one moderate physical exercise per week was associated with a reduced likelihood of developing metabolic disorders in the pre-pandemic (AOR 0.6) and pandemic (AOR 0.6) periods compared to physically inactive people.
The current study identifies an increased risk for metabolic conditions among certain subgroups of American adults during the COVID-19 pandemic. These findings could be used to guide resource allocation and public health interventions to target high-risk population subgroups like the elderly to reduce COVID-19-associated morbidities.
Individual health behaviors have also been found to influence the likelihood of developing metabolic disorders in the pre-pandemic and pandemic periods. For example, former smoking increased the risk of developing metabolic conditions, whereas moderate-intensity physical exercise had the opposite effect. Thus, smoking cessation and physical activity should be encouraged to reduce the risk of developing metabolic conditions.
Still, more research needs to be done to validate the study results.
- Mamudu, HM, Trade, D., Odame, EO, et al. (2023) The prevalence of metabolic conditions before and during the COVID-19 pandemic and its association with health and sociodemographic factors. PLOS ONE 18(2): e0279442. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0279442