Three-year study sees success in reversing symptoms of metabolic syndrome

March 17, 2017
For immediate release

TORONTO, ON – 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.

“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.”

Beginning in 2012, 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 was funded by Metabolic Syndrome Canada.

About metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is a group of conditions (high blood pressure, high blood lipids, high blood sugars, insulin resistance, large waist size) that increases the risk of chronic disease such as heart disease, stroke and diabetes. In Canada, 20 per cent of the adult population has MetS, with prevalence increasing with age. While medications help manage symptoms, the CHANGE Program shows great promise in reversing MetS. Chronic disease rates are predicted to increase 14 per cent annually costing Canada’s healthcare system billions of dollars.

About Metabolic Syndrome Canada

Metabolic Syndrome Canada (MetSC) is a not-for-profit organization spearheaded by a group of leading health experts from across the country — practicing family physicians, medical researchers, nutrition specialists and exercise specialists — who are determined to find a better way. Founded in 2011, MetSC has a clear mission: improve the long-term health of Canadians through effective diet and exercise lifestyle intervention.


For more information, please contact:

Rupinder Dhaliwal
Director of Operations, Metabolic Syndrome Canada