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Which is better: Group or individual exercise? UMKC’s new study hopes to find out

Posted at 5:56 AM, Jan 14, 2020
and last updated 2020-01-14 06:56:53-05

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Thousands of people don’t even know they have it, and doctors warn it increases risk for heart attacks, strokes and Type 2 diabetes.

It’s called metabolic syndrome.

“The thing that's bad about that is they're collecting their risk for heart disease and don’t even know they're at risk because it's not something you feel. It's very dangerous and very under-diagnosed,” explained Dr. Betty Drees, a professor with the UMKC School of Medicine’s Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics.

If you have three of the following five conditions, doctors consider it metabolic syndrome: High blood pressure, high blood sugar, high triglyceride, low HDL cholesterol or excess body fat around the waist.

Drees is part of a team leading a study to determine the best ways to prevent and manage metabolic syndrome. She’s looking for 120 people over the next two years to participate in a roughly six-month long study.

Participants must be at risk for metabolic syndrome. They will receive a FitBit and instructions on whether to exercise in a group of by themselves. They’ll receive blood work at no cost to measure their success.

Drees and her partners in the study want to determine whether group or individual activities lead to more successful behavioral changes.

“Knowledge doesn't necessarily translate into behavior change,” explained Dr. Janette Berkley-Patton, a UMKC professor and director of both the Community Health Research Group and the Health Equity Institute. “With this project, we're trying to not only give people information, but give them the skills and support they need to make those behavior changes.”

If you’re interested in participating in the study, call 816-404-4418 or email