Metabolic Syndrome: Who is at Risk, Causes, Consequences And Diet

Metabolic syndrome

What is metabolic syndrome

A set of risky changes in the body that, when co-occurring, increase the risk of heart and vascular diseases, including heart attack and stroke, type 2 diabetes, and other diseases of civilization. They, therefore, require medical supervision and, ideally, an immediate change in lifestyle.

Main risk factors

  • High or increased blood pressure
  • High or elevated blood sugar
  • Excess body fat in the waist area, so-called central obesity
  • Abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels

If you have one of these risk factors, it does not automatically mean that you hear a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. To determine it, your doctor needs to know your complete medical history, including your lifestyle and hereditary burden.

A number of other variables come into play

Expert studies suggest that risk factors can be much more than the 4 to 6 major ones listed by most sources on the Internet. Other criteria such as age, smoking, or gender play a role here. People at risk of liver disease, sleep apnea, or women with polycystic ovary syndrome are at greater risk. These problems are also closely related to overweight, hormones, and sugar metabolism.

Diagnosis and evaluation of the condition, including a proposal for further action, must be performed by a physician.

The risk increases with BMI

The so-called Body mass index, an indicative weight indicator relative to a person’s height, can sometimes confuse him. The visually slim person with a normal BMI value can also suffer from the syndrome. For example, the amount of visceral fat enveloping the internal organs also plays a role here. He is not visible.

However, the fact remains that the risk increases with increasing BMI. Between 2003 and 2006, physicians tested overweight men and women and found that they were 5.5 to 6 times more likely to have metabolic syndrome compared to those who were underweight or normal weight.

In obese people, the study even showed a 17- to 23-fold risk.

TIP: How are you doing with the weight? Test yourself on our BMI calculator.

Age also plays a role

The same study from 2003 to 2006 revealed that the risk of the syndrome increases with age. Specifically, in the research occurred in:

  • 20% of tested men and 16% of women under 40 years
  • 41% of men and 37% of women between the ages of 40 and 59
  • 52% of men and 54% of women aged 60 and over

The numbers speak to the detriment of men, but the issue is far more complex. Experts warn that women tend to have higher concentrations of specific inflammatory markers in the blood and thus a higher susceptibility to the deposition of visceral and subcutaneous fat.

You can eliminate some causes immediately

Metabolic syndrome is closely related to overweight/obesity, inactivity, and poor diet. Adverse genes or overall physical conditions may not affect your diet, but 100% will. If you live under stress, it also plays an important role.

Limit sugar intake. To reduce the risk of insulin resistance e

Junk Food Metabolic syndrome

Increased consumption of highly processed foods and excessive intake of sugars causes the development of so-called insulin resistance, one of the biggest scarecrows of modern times.

How is it created? Under normal circumstances, the hormone insulin, produced by the pancreas, helps with digestion and the use of energy from sugars. If we eat fast sugars too much and in addition to inappropriate sources, the so-called insulin resistance develops.

At that point, the cells stop responding normally to insulin – they do not allow glucose to enter the cells easily. The body has less fuel, blood sugar levels rise, and the pancreas spews more and more insulin in an effort to lower blood sugar levels.

Dyslipidemia and metabolic syndrome

One research showed an association between insulin resistance and dyslipidemia – a disorder of the balance of fats in the blood. It is usually characterized by higher levels of triglycerides, low “good” HDL cholesterol, and normal or slightly elevated levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol.

Higher triglycerides and low levels of good cholesterol occur about 2 times more often in patients with metabolic syndrome who have already been diagnosed with diabetes.

Women are again at a slightly higher risk of developing diabetes and high cholesterol, probably again in connection with naturally higher levels of inflammatory markers.

Children and metabolic syndrome

The number of children at risk of this problem is also increasing. The risk increases again with age. It rarely occurs in children under 10 years of age. The syndrome often affects entire families who are not physically active and eat an unsuitable diet with a high proportion of processed foods and simple sugars.

In addition to blood tests and higher BMI, the indicators of the problem include the so-called acanthosis nigricans, ie darkening of the skin in the folds of the neck, armpits, around the navel or groin. This is a sign of insulin resistance.

Caution, symptoms may not appear at all

Most disorders associated with the metabolic syndrome do not have overt symptoms or specifically described symptoms. At first glance, a visible warning sign is overweight, especially the large waist circumference.

If your blood sugar rises, you may notice symptoms of diabetes, such as increased thirst, frequent urination, or blurred vision. At this point, it may not be a metabolic syndrome or diabetes. The body just calls for help.

One of the specific indicators may be the mentioned darkening of the skin in the folds.

Professional diagnostics

If you suspect metabolic syndrome, tell your GP at a preventive check-up, which you should go to every two years.

The doctor will ask for a family history, check the weight, skin condition, and listen to the heart. It usually does:

  • BMI and waist measurement
  • Blood pressure measurement
  • Blood tests including lipid profile, glycemia and hemoglobin A1C

If any of the risk factors are confirmed, the doctor will look further – by examination for liver disease, polycystic ovary syndrome in women, or sleep apnea.

Lay diagnostics

If you don’t want to rush to the doctor for any reason, start with an orientation measurement on the InBody. You can find it in fitness centers and with nutrition counselors. You can also get a basic overview at home by measuring subcutaneous fat.

Prevention and treatment

The only reliable prevention is a healthy lifestyle. Once the metabolic syndrome breaks out, proper lifestyle mitigates its effects, improves quality, and prolongs life. Doctors will monitor you and address other symptoms symptomatically, such as high cholesterol, high blood sugar, and more.

What to do for a healthy lifestyle right now

  • Adjust your diet and work to lose weight. Either alone or under the guidance of an experienced nutritionist.
  • Don’t smoke.
  • Include a daily – or at least most days – at least a 30-minute walk or other physical activity.
  • Reduce stress. Spend a day just yourself. Limit screen time.

Weight loss alone and adjusting the regimen can improve or even solve health problems and reduce the risk of future cardiovascular problems.

Diet in metabolic syndrome

Adjusting your diet is an essential step towards a healthier body and mind. Right now you can skip sugary drinks and soft drinks, reduce alcohol and unhealthy fast food and semi-finished foods.

Reduce your intake of saturated and trans fats and foods high in sodium.

Base your diet on:

  • Fresh fruits and vegetables
  • Whole grain products
  • Lean meat and fish
  • Legumes
  • Nuts, seeds and other sources of quality fats (olive oil, etc.)

Watch your daily fiber intake. You get it mainly from fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.

TIP: Many doctors recommend the so-called Mediterranean diet.

The good news at the end: Adjusting the mode will usually help

To avoid metabolic syndrome, focus on healthy food, plenty of exercise, stop smoking, and work on your overall lifestyle. If you manage to calm down and lose weight overall, you will probably be significantly relieved.

Nevertheless, we recommend consulting a doctor who monitors the risk factors and, if necessary, uses medicines for high blood pressure, sugar, or cholesterol. Pharmacological treatment may not be lifelong. Many people compare their values ​​after adjusting their lifestyle.


Criteria for metabolic syndrome:

According to the NCEP ATP III definition, metabolic syndrome is present if three or more of the following five criteria are met: waist circumference over 40 inches (men) or 35 inches (women), blood pressure over 130/85 mmHg, fasting triglyceride (TG) level over 150 mg/dl, fasting high-density lipoprotein (HDL)

Who metabolic syndrome criteria:

The metabolic syndrome defined by ATP-III guidelines consists of three or more of the following: fasting plasma glucose ≥110 mg/dl, serum triglycerides ≥150 mg/dl, serum HDL cholesterol <40 mg/dl, BP ≥130/85 mmHg or on BP medication, or waist girth >102 cm.

Diet for metabolic syndrome:

The optimal approach for preventing the Metabolic Syndrome is to lose excess weight with regular exercise and a diet, like the Pritikin Eating Plan, that focuses on foods that are low in calorie density and naturally high in fiber and nutrients, including whole-grain foods like hot cereals, corn, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice; generous amounts of fruits, vegetables, and starchy foods like potatoes, yams, beans, lentils, and peas; and modest amounts of nonfat dairy products, seafood, and lean poultry and meat.

Metabolic syndrome X:

Metabolic syndrome X is a cluster of conditions that occur together, increasing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. These conditions include increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels.

Metabolic syndrome icd 10:

Metabolic syndrome. E88. 81 is a billable/specific ICD10-CM code that can be used to indicate a diagnosis for reimbursement purposes. The 2020 edition of ICD10-CM E88.

Metabolic syndrome risk factors:

Your risk for heart disease, diabetes, and stroke increases with the number of metabolic risk factors you have. The risk of having metabolic syndrome is closely linked to overweight and obesity and a lack of physical activity. Insulin resistance also may increase your risk of metabolic syndrome.

We keep your fingers crossed for you 🙂

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Rebecca Marie

Rebecca Marie, MA, LMHC, LPC, MAA is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor and is an expert in anxiety, stress, depression, and relationship issues.

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