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Obesity and nutrition are keys to avoiding metabolic syndrome

Data reported by the Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project reinforce the positive influence of lifestyle factors in mitigating risks that potentially increase the likelihood of heart disease and other health problems.

Findings based on 1,059 residents of New Ulm, Minn, underscore the importance of obesity prevention and nutrition, specifically eating more fruits and vegetables, in addressing metabolic syndrome (MS), a common precursor to cardiovascular disease (CVD).

This study used an easily calculated Optimal Lifestyle Score (OLS), which is a composite summary of smoking, fruit and vegetable consumption, alcohol use, physical activity, and body mass index. The results were presented by Jackie Boucher, MS, RD, LD, CDE, Vice President for Education, Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation on Tuesday November 19 at the American Heart Association Scientific Sessions in Dallas, TX.

Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project is a research and demonstration project with a goal of reducing heart attacks in New Ulm, Minn. over a ten year period. The project involves worksite, clinical and community programs, and environmental changes and is being led by the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation in close partnership with Allina Health and the community of New Ulm.

"These findings clearly support national recommendations encouraging individuals to achieve energy balance and to increase fruit and vegetable consumption," stated Boucher. "Our data suggests that there is a clear connection between increased body weight or the decrease in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, and the development of metabolic syndrome, a clustering of CVD risk factors."

In 2009, 1,059 of screened residents did not have MS, with 123 (12%) going on to develop MS by 2011. A decline in the OLS was associated with a nearly 3-fold increased risk of incident MS (aOR = 2.9, CI: 1.69, 5.04). Changes in BMI and fruit/vegetable consumption were the OLS components most strongly associated with MS. People who became obese during the two-year time period were more than eight times more likely to develop MS and people who reduced their intake of fruits and vegetables to less than 5 or more servings per day were four times more likely to develop MS.

The Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project is in year five of the Project. Overall, data demonstrates significant increases in the consumption of fruits and vegetables, levels of physical activity and the daily use of aspirin. Data also suggests that significantly fewer people have high blood cholesterol and high blood pressure, reinforcing the importance of modifying nutrition and physical activity behaviors to improve health and prevent disease.

About the Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is dedicated to improving people's lives through the highest quality cardiovascular research and education.

Scientific Innovation and Research – Publishing more than 120 peer-reviewed studies each year, MHIF is a recognized research leader in the broadest range of cardiovascular medicine. Each year, cardiologists and hospitals around the world adopt MHIF protocols to save lives and improve patient care.

Education and Outreach – Research shows that modifying specific health behaviors can significantly reduce the risk of developing heart disease. Through community programs, screenings and presentations, MHIF educates people of all walks of life about heart health. The goal of the Foundation's community outreach is to increase personal awareness of risk factors and provide the tools necessary to help people pursue heart- healthy lifestyles.

About The Hearts Beat Back: The Heart of New Ulm Project

The project is designed to reduce the number of heart attacks that occur in the New Ulm area over the next 10 years. This means helping residents improve their health risks, such as physical inactivity, poor nutrition, obesity, or tobacco use, among others. The project involves worksite, healthcare and community interventions and environmental changes. The Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation is working in close partnership with Allina Health and the community to support this community-led project. More information is available on at
Steve Goodyear
Minneapolis Heart Institute Foundation

Steve Goodyear | EurekAlert!
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