Diabetes Mellitus Type 2 diabetes

TYPE 2 DIABETES AND THE METABOLIC SYNDROME

A common sense treatment for obesity and related diseases such as metabolic syndrome is weight loss through exercise.
Written by StopDiabetes

What is metabolic syndrome and its connection to diabetes?

Metabolic syndrome (once called Syndrome X) is a cluster of metabolic risk factors that a person has, all putting the person at risk for various diseases. One of the major traits of metabolic syndrome is obesity, or being overweight, either through poor eating habits, not enough exercise, or other factors. Found mostly in adults (many with prediabetes), obesity includes too much fat around the waist (in other words, a large waist measurement), high blood pressure, high triglycerides, and abnormal blood fats (especially certain cholesterol levels).
In terms of diabetes, metabolic syndrome also includes high blood glucose levels, which go hand-in-hand with glucose intolerance. Not only does metabolic syndrome predict an increased risk of diabetes, it also predicts cardiovascular disease. (For more about cardiovascular disease, see the chapter “How Diabetes Affects the Circulatory System.”)

How many people are estimated to have metabolic syndrome in the United States?

It is estimated that about 34 percent of adults in the United States have metabolic syndrome. It is found to be higher in non-Hispanic white males than Mexican American and non-Hispanic black men. But in contrast, it is more common in Mexican American women than in non-Hispanic black or non-Hispanic white women.

What are the numbers behind metabolic-syndrome traits?

According to many organizations, such as the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), the American Diabetes Association, the American Heart Association (AHA), and the Diabetes Prevention Support Center, any three of the following five traits in the same person meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome. Many of these traits are related to the foods we eat (note: the term “mg/dl,” also seen as “mg/dL,” means milligrams per deciliter, a unit of measure):

Abdominal obesity—One metabolic syndrome trait is a high waist circumference, often called an “apple-shaped” body (as opposed to what is called a “pear-shaped” body). This means a waist circumference of 40 inches (102 centimeters) or more in men and 35 inches (88 centimeters) or more in women (there are also different criteria for various ethnic groups, too; for example, for Asian Americans, the values are greater than or equal to 35 inches [90 centimeters] in men and greater than or equal to 32 inches [80 centimeters] in women). (For more about abdominal obesity, see this chapter.)

Serum triglycerides (or triglycerides)—This reading is included in the test for metabolic syndrome if a person has a triglyceride reading of 150 mg/dl or above and is taking medicine for high triglycerides. (For more about triglycerides, see the chapter “How Diabetes Affects the Circulatory System.”)
Cholesterol—The cholesterol in the body has “good” and “bad” types. The “bad” cholesterol is LDL (low-density lipoprotein), but that reading is not used in determining metabolic syndrome. The “good” cholesterol, HDL (high-density lipoprotein), is used: If the HDL cholesterol reads 40 mg/dl or lower in men and 50 mg/dl or lower in women, then it is part of the list for metabolic syndrome. In addition, taking medicine for low HDL cholesterol is included in the metabolic-syndrome list. (For more about cholesterol—good and bad—see the chapter “How Diabetes Affects the Circulatory System.”)

Blood pressure—For blood pressure to be added to the list of metabolic-syndrome traits, there must be a reading of 130/85 or more (systolic over diastolic numbers), although this reading is often debated, usually in favor of a bit higher reading. Another trait of metabolic syndrome is taking medicine for high blood pressure. (For more about blood pressure, see the chapter “How Diabetes Affects the Circulatory System.”)

Blood glucose—Another metabolic-syndrome trait is high blood glucose levels. Levels of fasting blood glucose would measure 100 mg/dl or above (although this number is also debated, with several researchers suggesting it should be even lower). Taking medicine for high blood glucose is also included in metabolic syndrome.

How is metabolic syndrome treated?

According to almost every health-related organization, such as the American Heart Association and the American Diabetes Association, there are several things a person with metabolic syndrome can do to help lower the risk of developing cardiovascular disease and/or diabetes. The major ways are for a person to lose weight, eat a healthy diet, and increase physical activity.

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