The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of disorders that increase your risk of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
It may also affect your weight loss. Despite the modern sounding name, the metabolic syndrome is not a new condition. It was first described in the 1920s and is now recognized internationally as a major health problem. One feature of the syndrome is that people with it can find it very hard to lose weight.
Do I have the metabolic syndrome?
Tick which of the following statements applies to you.
I carry a lot of excess weight around my stomach / belly / abdomen.
I have high blood pressure (hypertension).
I have low levels of HDL (good cholesterol)
I have high fasting glucose levels (higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetic).
If three of the above statements including the first apply to you, then you are likely to have the metabolic syndrome.
How much belly fat is too much?
To find out if you are in the high risk category for the metabolic syndrome, measure your waist with a tape measure. Measure around the narrowest part of your body between your chest and your hips. To get an accurate reading , stand as you would normally and dont suck in your belly. The tape should be snug but not tight.
Women with a waist circumference of less than 32 inches (80cm ), and men with a waist circumference of less than 37 inches (94cm) have normal waist sizes. (But normal waist size for Asians is likely to be less than for others. Check with your doctor if you are unsure.) Women with waists of 32- 35 inches (80-88 cm) circumference are at greater risk of health problems. Those with a waist measurement of more than 35 inches (88 cm) circumference are at much greater risk.
Similarly men with waists of 37 -41 inches (94-102cm) are at greater risk of health problems. Men with waists of more than 41 inches (102cm) are at much greater risk. How common is the metabolic syndrome?
It is estimated that 44% of Americans over the age of 50 and over 25% of Australians over age 25 and have the metabolic syndrome. It is a problem among overweight people throughout the world. What can I do to reduce my risk from the metabolic syndrome?
Reduce your risk (of stroke, heart disease and type 2 diabetes) by losing weight. Weight loss will not only improve your physical appearance, but more importantly, will improve your health. Even losing a relatively small amount of weight-5-10 pounds can reduce your risk greatly if you maintain the weight loss. Some people with the metabolic syndrome have been helped by a low carbohydrate/ low fat diet. Be aware that you may lose weight more slowly than others and be patient with yourself. Instead of expecting to lose your excess weight in a week or two, prepare to lose it steadily over months. Choose a diet, or better an eating plan which you live with permanently.
Be more active. Most people with the metabolic syndrome are overweight or obese, older and physically inactive. Even if you are unfit, there are many exercises which you can start with. Walking is a great exercise for most people. Again, be patient. A healthy diet coupled with steady exercise will see you lose weight slowly but steadily. Check with your doctor to see if you need medication to help with your symptoms of the metabolic syndrome. Some doctors specialize in treating people with the metabolic syndrome and may offer supplements and medication.