is a condition in which the person has poor blood glucose regulation, hypertension, increased blood triglycerides, and other health problems. This condition is usually accompanied by obesity, lack of physical activity, and a diet high in refined carbohydrates.
Causes, incidence, and risk factors
Metabolic syndrome is becoming more and more common in the United States. Researchers are not sure whether the syndrome is due to one single cause, but all of the risks for the syndrome are related to obesity.
The two most important risk factors for metabolic syndrome are:
- Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body (central obesity). The body may be described as “apple-shaped.”
- Insulin resistance, in which the body cannot use insulin effectively. Insulin is needed to help control the amount of sugar in the body. As a result, blood sugar and fat levels rise.
Peole who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse:
- Excess blood clotting
- Low levels of inflammation throughout the body
This profile raises the risk of heart disease and diabetes type 2 and about 20-25% of Americans are so affected. On a positive side, premature heart disease is rare in people who have low LDL-cholesterol, have normal blood pressure, and do no smoke or have diabetes. In other words, develop and follow a total lifestyle plan.
Making simple dietary changes, losing a few pounds, and adding a little light exercise to our daily routine can significantly lower your risk factors for diabetes and heart disease. A Finnish study found that even small lifestyle changes helped reduce abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome by as much as 15%.
The researchers looked at data on 522 overweight men and women, average age 55 at the start of the study, who also showed impaired glucose tolerance – indicating a risk for diabetes.
Half of the participants received regular, individualized advice designed to help them reduce their weight by at least 5% – through increasing their intake of whole grains, vegetables, fruits, and low fat diary and meats. They were also counseled to spend at least 30 minutes a day in light exercise such as walking, jogging, swimming, aerobics and/or weight training.
The other participants were only given written and oral advice about diet and exercise at the start of the study and at their annual check-ups only.
The subjects were followed for an average of almost four years. The men and women who received the more rigourous ndividualized counseling and follow-up reduced their abdominal fat and metabolic syndrome occurrence by 15%, an especially promising result among a population already overweight and showing signs of elevated diabetes risk.
Those who received just general diet and exercise advice, however, did not reduce their flab at all, and decreased their rate of metabolic syndrome by just 4%.
These results highlight the importance of “individualized, patient-centered counseling and regular follow-up, easily provided by a a qualified nutritionist. To read more about diabetes prevention in the community, click here.
- UC Davis researchers find disease-causing fat cells in those with metabolic syndrome (eurekalert.org)