According to research published in the journal Diabetes Care, farm industry and food service workers had higher rates of metabolic syndrome compared to an overall U.S. jobs risk. Transportation and moving workers had the greatest risk for metabolic syndrome — waiters and waitresses were not included in the food service category.
The study’s researched categories suffered a thirty percent risk compared to an overall U.S. risk of about 22 percent, according to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.
“Metabolic syndrome refers to a collection of risk factors for diabetes, heart disease and stroke — including abdominal obesity, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides (another type of blood fat).”
When a person has three or more of the conditions included in metabolic syndrome, their risk for heart attack and stroke can double.
Noteworthy is writers, artists, entertainers, athletes, scientists, engineers and architects, had metabolic syndrome rates of 8 percent to 9 percent, while doctors, nurses and other health professionals had a rate of 12 percent.
The objective of the study was to assess the differences in prevalence and risk of metabolic syndrome among occupational groups using nationally representative data of US workers.
The results, according to the study, were that twenty percent of workers met criteria for the metabolic syndrome, with “food preparation and food service workers,” and “farm managers, operators and supervisors” having the greatest age-adjusted prevalence…and “writers, artists, entertainers, athletes,” and “engineers, architects, and scientists” the lowest. In logistic regression analysis “transportation/material moving workers” had significantly greater odds of meeting the criteria for metabolic syndrome relative to executive, administrative, managerial professionals.
The study concludes there is variability in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome by occupational status, with “transportation and moving workers” at greatest risk for metabolic syndrome. Workplace health promotion programs addressing risk factors for metabolic syndrome that target workers in occupations with the greatest odds may be an efficient way to reach at-risk populations.
Dr. Davila and her colleagues claim factors not measured in this study such as irregular work schedules and poorer sleep habits, or job stress may explain the link between transportation work and metabolic syndrome.
Increased physical activity, a balanced diet, and the reduction of calories can aid greatly in the prevention the development of metabolic syndrome.
But oddly, according to the researchers, their findings do not prove that any given occupation increases or decreases the risk of metabolic syndrome” — which seems to invalidate the thrust of their study results.
And according to a report in Lancet, “Metabolic syndrome—what is the clinical usefulness?” [Lancet 371: 1892–1893], different sets of conflicting and incomplete diagnostic criteria are in existence, and that when confounding factors such as obesity are accounted for, diagnosis of the metabolic syndrome has a negligible association with the risk of heart disease.
In a joint statement — The metabolic syndrome: time for a critical appraisal — issued by the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes, statement authors concluded that the metabolic syndrome has been imprecisely defined, there is a lack of certainty regarding its pathogenesis, and there is considerable doubt regarding its value as a cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk marker.
Their analysis indicates that too much critically important information is missing to warrant its designation as a “syndrome.” Until much needed research is completed, say the authors, clinicians should evaluate and treat all CVD risk factors without regard to whether a patient meets the criteria for diagnosis of the “metabolic syndrome.”