Metabolic syndrome

What is Metabolic Syndrome?

An excess of body fat, especially abdominal fat, leads to impaired glucose and lipid metabolism, which leads to hyperinsulinaemia (a high blood insulin level, also known as insulin resistance).

At its most severe this leads to diabetes; less severe degrees of insulin resistance lead to what is a multi-component disease known as metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome describes a clustering of several risk factors for heart disease and stroke;

  • Abdominal obesity
  • Abnormal blood lipids (e.g. high LDL cholesterol [especially small dense LDL]
  • Reduced HDL cholesterol & raised triglyceride concentrations)
  • Insulin resistance
  • High blood pressure (hypertension).

Metabolic syndrome is associated with an increased risk of cardiovascular disease (heart disease and stroke).

People with metabolic syndrome are three times more likely to suffer heart disease or stoke than someone with normal blood insulin concentrations.

Metabolic syndrome has been suggested to affect 25% of the population in countries such as the UK, and has severe consequences for both public health and the economy.

Body weight plays an important role in the development of metabolic syndrome, and with obesity spiralling out of control (20% of men and 25% of women in some parts of Europe are obese) the problem is only set to get worse. 

Over 3.2 million people in the UK1 have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the upward trend continues.

Metabolic syndrome symptoms can be reversed by following a healthy diet, losing weight and getting some exercise.

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1 - Number of people diagnosed with diabetes reaches 3.2 million, Diabetes UK

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