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Treatment for Syndrome W usually involves lifestyle changes related to diet and exercise. Those following the diet most commonly associated with this treatment are not actually restricted from eating certain foods, but are encouraged to consume specific portions of others. A doctor may also prescribe patients medication commonly used to treat diabetes, but usually in low doses only.
“Syndrome W” is a health condition characterized by weight gain or inability to lose weight around the waist area due to the body’s resistance to absorbing insulin. The term was coined by Dr. Harriette Mogul, an epidemiologist and endocrinologist who noticed similar recurring symptoms from several generally healthy female patients in their 40s. Particular symptoms that kept reappearing were an increase in insulin levels and blood pressure, although blood sugar levels remained normal. According to Dr. Mogul, the “W” means “women, weight gain, and waist gain,” a suitable letter since symptoms in Syndrome W, if not treated, can lead to Syndrome X, another medical condition of combined heart diseases and diabetes.
Patients can undergo a glucose tolerance test to determine if they suffer from the condition. Patients with Syndrome W are recommended to follow a diet plan called the “Carb Modified Diet” which is associated with a “4-3-2-1” approach to the portions and foods eaten. The number “4” represents a minimum of four daily servings of vegetables, plus four servings of low-fat protein that can include fish, eggs, and white meat from chicken. The "3" represents three servings of low-glycemic index fruits, like berries and citruses, whose natural sugars are not easily released into the blood, keeping the patient’s blood sugar at a steady level. A patient is also allowed to have a maximum of three servings of starches, consumed in the afternoons.
The Carb Modified Diet also permits two servings of fats per day, but Dr. Mogul stresses that healthy, monounsaturated fats such as those from olive oil and avocado should be consumed, rather than unhealthy fats from butter or animal fats that can clog the arteries. Patients can also have two servings of dairy products that also contain less fat, such as yogurt, or skim milk. The “1” on the diet stands for one weekly treat the patient can have, such as a slice of cake or a chocolate bar, but the “treat” should contain, at most, 400 calories.
Aside from the Carb Modified Diet, patients with Syndrome W may also be prescribed metformin, a drug commonly taken by diabetics to help the body absorb insulin more effectively. Patients might also have to discuss hormone treatments for symptoms of menopause with their gynecologists, since oral hormone medications can cause weight gain. Exercise or regular physical activity is also important to treat and prevent Syndrome W.
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