Successful study on reversing symptoms of metabolic syndrome published

We're pleased to announce that a three-year study published in CMAJ Open has concluded that metabolic syndrome (MetS) may be reversed through participation in a team-based lifestyle intervention program including diet and exercise changes. Metabolic syndrome is a clinical, silent condition first discovered by a family physician during routine checkup. Almost 20% of Canadians have this condition and don't know it.

"The CHANGE program helps family physicians halt the progression of metabolic syndrome to diabetes, stroke and heart attacks," says lead author Dr. Khursheed Jeejeebhoy, Gastroenterologist, Emeritus Professor of Medicine at the University of Toronto and Director of Home Nutrition Support for St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto. "This will save healthcare expenses and drastically improve the quality of life."

This study is a culmination of a project starting in 2012 in which, 305 adult patients with MetS took part in the Canadian Health Advanced by Nutrition and Graded Exercise (CHANGE) Program. Study participants were recruited from three diverse family medicine settings to partake in the 12-month personalized diet and exercise program guided by family MDs, registered dietitians and kinesiologists.

During the 3-year study, participants attended 76 per cent of kinesiologist visits, and 90 per cent of dietitian visits. After 12 months, 19 per cent of patients showed reversal of MetS, while 42 per cent exhibited a decrease in the number of MetS criteria. Diet and aerobic capacity improved significantly, and the 10-year risk of heart attack was reduced, on average, by 17 per cent.

The CHANGE Program, which was implemented at three primary care settings during the study, has the potential to have a major impact on patient wellbeing and healthcare.

"Our work raises the need for dietitians and kinesiologists on primary care teams, and the need for family doctors, to recognize patient lifestyle as highly relevant," says Rupinder Dhaliwal, Director of Operations at Metabolic Syndrome Canada. "The adoption of the CHANGE Program by family practices has the potential to have a major impact on wellbeing and healthcare."

Metabolic Syndrome Canada is working toward implementing the CHANGE Program in family medicine clinics across Canada. The results of the study are published in CMAJ Open. The study was conducted by researchers at Queen's University, Laval University, the University of Alberta and the University of Guelph, alongside primary care experts across Canada and as funded by Metabolic Syndrome Canada.