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Metabolic Syndrome: Another Reason to Stay On Track

Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome:

Abdominal Obesity - waist circumfrence of...
  • Men: 40 inches or more
  • Women: 35 inches or more
Triglycerides - 150 mg/dL or higher

HDL Cholesterol
  • Men: below 40 mg/dL
  • Women: below 50 mg/dL
Blood pressure: 130/85 mmHg or higher

Fasting glucose: 110 mg/dL or higher
More and more common in the United States, metabolic syndrome is a combination of factors that are associated with insulin resistance (a disorder in which the body's tissues do not respond normally to insulin) and an increased risk of developing diabetes. It occurs when a person with a genetic predisposition to insulin resistance is physically inactive and develops excess body fat (particularly abdominal obesity).

Metabolic syndrome and its individual risk factors represent a heart disease risk comparable to smoking, regardless of one's LDL cholesterol level. Likewise insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes -- in addition other metabolic problems with which they are associated -- present an independent threat to cardiovascular health.

Because the risks inherent in metabolic syndrome are so great, when it is diagnosed, physicians usually use drugs to treat the individual conditions as aggressively as possible.

But whether metabolic syndrome has been diagnosed or is still only a risk, adhering to the same diet and lifestyle changes recommended to reduce cholesterol and obesity will help to reduce metabolic risk factors. In fact, the combination of weight loss and increased physical activity is the safest and most effective means of reducing insulin resistance and improving metabolic risk factors.