Eligible participants needed for clinical trial aimed at learning more about metabolic syndrome

Dec. 6, 2021

CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center is offering a program unique in its focus on healthy lifestyles and, for its part, on heathy eating too. It’s the Enhanced Lifestyles for Metabolic Syndrome (ELM) trial and it is seeking eligible participants for its final cohort who will begin in January 2022.

Folks with metabolic syndrome are at greater risk of developing heart failure, diabetes, most types of cancer and cardiovascular disease, all major causes of disability and death in this country and abroad. Further, metabolic syndrome is a huge risk factor for hospitalization and death from COVID. The goals of the ELM program are to lower that risk by helping its members to eat healthy, increase activity, manage stress and increase mindfulness.

information on qualifying for metabolic syndrome trail

Currently, 1 in 3 people in the United States have metabolic syndrome. Ten years ago, that number was only 1 in 4; you can see that it has increased significantly. Just under 30% of the general U.S. population knows what metabolic syndrome is, but the frightening statistic is that of 5,389 people with metabolic syndrome only 13% have heard of it ever; only 9% understand what it is.

Qualifying for the metabolic syndrome trial

Eligible participants in ELM must be 18 years of age or older and meet three of the following conditions for metabolic syndrome:

  • Large waist size or waist circumference.
  • High blood pressure or taking blood pressure medication for high blood pressure.
  • High blood sugar or prediabetes (but not have diabetes).
  • High triglycerides or taking medications for high triglycerides.
  • Low HDL (“good cholesterol”) or taking medications for low HDL.

So, here is the fine print: If you think ELM might help you start off a new year with a healthier outlook and you qualify for ELM, you’ll be randomly assigned to one of two groups. Here are those two groups’ particulars:

Group-based Lifestyle Program: requires participants to attend weekly group classes at Anschutz Health Center in Aurora, CO, on Tuesdays (from 4:30 to 6 p.m. MT) for the first three months of the program; biweekly classes for the next three months; and then monthly classes for 18 months. (ELM is a two-year trial.)

Self-directed Lifestyle Program: requires participants to read education tip sheets and follow the instructions on their own.

Four study visits will collect data over the two-year term of ELM, at no cost to the participant; all participants also receive the Fitbit-brand activity tracker; up to $180 compensation; and blood work and lab results, at no cost to the participant.

ELM shares a lifestyle philosophy that healthy living is about enjoying life, especially cooking and eating well under the mantra of mindfulness.

If ELM sounds like something that might help you in the New Year and beyond, contact the study team at (303) 724-9198 or [email protected].

ELM is at five sites around the country, with a total of 600 active participants; of these, 120 will be from the Denver area. In Colorado, Dr. Kevin Masters, a clinical health psychologist, runs ELM. Here is a video interview with Dr. Masters about ELM done with television’s 9Health.


Finally, here is the type of recipe that you’ll learn to cook and enjoy as part of ELM. I’ve adapted it from a title of a recipe that the program uses and from foodnetwork.com.

Herbed Spaghetti Squash

Serves 4.


1 small spaghetti squash, about 2 1/4 pounds

2 1/2 tablespoons butter (or Earth Balance or olive oil)

2 1/2 tablespoons finely chopped mixed soft herbs, such as basil, chives, chervil, parsley and sage

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Using a sharp knife, cut the squash in half lengthwise and place, cut side down, in a baking dish. Add enough water to come 1/2-inch up the sides of the baking dish and cover with aluminum foil. Bake for 45 minutes, until the squash is easily pierced with a paring knife. Turn squash over and cover with foil again and continue to cook another 15 minutes, until the squash is very tender.

Remove from the oven, uncover, and allow to cool slightly. Using a spoon, remove the seeds and discard. Using a fork, gently pull the strands of squash away from the peel and place the squash strands into a mixing bowl.

Heat a skillet. Add the butter (or Earth Balance or olive oil), spaghetti squash, herbs, salt and pepper and toss thoroughly but gently to heat and combine. Serve immediately or cover and keep warm until ready to serve.

For the past few years, every other week, I’ve written a piece for UCHealth with the aim to encourage folks to eat — and mostly cook — healthier for themselves and their families. It’s a regular part of the https://www.uchealth.org/today page and, if you’ve read any of my columns, I hope you’ve enjoyed and benefited from them.

Reach Bill St. John at [email protected]

About the author

For more than 40 years, Bill St. John’s specialties have been as varied as they are cultured. He writes and teaches about restaurants, wine, food & wine, the history of the cuisines of several countries (France, Italy, Spain, Belgium, and the USA), about religion and its nexus with food, culture, history, or philosophy, and on books, travel, food writing, op-ed, and language.

Bill has lent (and lends) his subject matter expertise to such outlets as The Rocky Mountain News, The Denver Post, The Chicago Tribune, 5280 Magazine, and for various entities such as food markets, wine shops, schools & hospitals, and, for its brief life, Microsoft’s sidewalk.com. In 2001 he was nominated for a James Beard Award in Journalism for his 12 years of writing for Wine & Spirits Magazine.

Bill's experience also includes teaching at Regis University and the University of Chicago and in classrooms of his own devising; working as on-air talent with Denver's KCNC-TV, where he scripted and presented a travel & lifestyle program called "Wine at 45"; a one-week stint as a Trappist monk; and offering his shoulder as a headrest for Julia Child for 20 minutes.

Bill has also visited 54 countries, 42 of the United States, and all 10 Canadian provinces.