What Is the Connection between Metabolic Syndrome and Obesity?

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  • Written By: Marlene de Wilde
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2019
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The connection between metabolic syndrome and obesity is that central, or abdominal, obesity is one of the conditions which contributes to a diagnosis of the condition. Metabolic syndrome is a set of symptoms rather than a single medical condition which leads to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and diabetes. The other risk factors which contribute to the syndrome commonly include diabetes and pre-diabetes, hypertension and abnormal lipids.

Metabolic syndrome has been described as the link between metabolic abnormalities such as type 2 diabetes, dyslipidemia, insulin resistance and hypertension which together lead to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. People who have metabolic syndrome and obesity have a much higher risk of developing heart disease and diabetes than those who do not have it. At least three risk factors must be present before a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome can be made. These risk factors include a large waist measurement, known as abdominal or central obesity, a high level of triglycerides in the blood, a low level of good cholesterol, high blood pressure and high blood sugar which could indicate the onset of diabetes.


While some consider these conditions to be mainly a result of poor lifestyle choices, others have come to believe that these conditions may develop in utero. Studies into the connection between obesity, genetics and the risk of disease are being carried out to determine how much of syndromes such as metabolic syndrome and obesity are the result of bad food and lifestyle choices and how much is due to genetics. If susceptibility to the development of such conditions is better understood, then treatments such as lifestyle changes and medication could be implemented earlier. The latest research indicates that all the risk factors of metabolic syndrome and obesity are strongly inherited and a combination of genetic and environmental factors are responsible for their onset.

Abdominal obesity is the most prevalent manifestation of metabolic syndrome and it is also the most common cause of insulin resistance, especially in children. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with the degree of obesity and the more obese the person, the worse the individual symptoms or conditions such as hypertension and raised triglycerides. More and more people in industrialized countries are being diagnosed with metabolic syndrome mainly due to the rising incidence of obesity and it is considered that the syndrome, together with its individual components, will reach epidemic proportions in the near future.


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