Metabolic Syndrome

What is metabolic syndrome? Syndrome X, pluri-metabolic syndrome, Reaven’s syndrome, syndrome of insulin resistance. All these terms signify the same condition. It is not an actual disease, but a group of metabolic disorders mostly occurring all at once.

The syndrome consists of these conditions:

  • pro-inflammatory
  • pro-thrombotic
  • pro-oxidative

To diagnose metabolic syndrome, 3 out of 5 components need to be present. It makes it easier to identify individuals with a high risk of cardiovascular disease or diabetes type II. Persons with diagnosed metabolic syndrome have twice as great of a risk of cardiovascular disease and 5 times greater risk of diabetes in the next 5 to 10 years. The greater the number of components present, the greater the risk. Also, the syndrome is linked to non-alcoholic fat liverreproductive and sleep disorders. The occurrence rate rises with age, and a worrying fact is that today it rises rapidly in children and adolescents. If it’s diagnosed in youth, it’s a strong predictor for developing cardiovascular disease in adult age. It’s estimated that 20-30% of world’s population have the metabolic syndrome, which is close to pandemic and represents a serious health problem.


  1. Abdominal obesity
  2. High blood sugar
  3. Low HDL
  4. High triglyceride
  5. High blood pressure (hypertension) 


Etiology of metabolic syndrome is not precisely explained, but it involves a complex interaction of genetic, metabolic, and environmental factors. High body weight (obesity), especially the storage of fat (adipose) tissue around the abdominal area, is the greatest factor in its development, and is a consequence of the imbalance between energy intake and consumption. Other than excessive calorie intake, physical inactivity also plays a big role. Genetic predisposition is also an important factor, especially if someone in the family already has diabetes type II.


There is no specific therapy for metabolic syndrome. One must change their life habits and medically treat certain components of the syndrome. Considering that obesity is the basic cause of the syndrome, reducing body weight is a primary goal. It doesn’t need to be drastic, every kilogram reduces the chance for diabetes type II occurrence by 16%. Regular physical activity has a beneficial effect on all components of the syndrome, and it also helps with losing weight by enhancing the energy consumption. A diverse diet will prevent any dietary deficits, and it shouldn’t be any different than a healthy person’s diet when it comes to its contents. If changing the life habits isn’t enough to stabilize levels of blood sugar, lipids, and blood pressure, medicine can be prescribed – metformin, statine, fibrates, etc. In cases of morbid obesity (BMI>40), medicine for losing weight can also be prescribed, and in some cases bariatric surgery.



  • at least 5 meals containing fruits and vegetables a day
  • at least 50% of whole-wheat grains
  • 2-3 dairy product meals
  • at least 2 meals a week containing fatty fish

Reducing the intake of

  • trans-fatty acids (crackers, biscuits, margarine…)
  • sweets and snacks

Meal preparation

  • using olive instead of plant oil
  • using spices
  • moderate usage of salt

*consider using dietary supplements if advised by nutritionist


  1. Alberti, K. G., Eckel, R. H., Grundy, S. M. (2009) Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and International Association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation, 120 (16), 1640–1645.
  2. Grundy S.M. (2008) Metabolic syndrome pandemic. Arterioscler Thromb Vasc Biol. 28, 629-636.
  3. Cornier, M. A., Dabelea, D., Hernandez, T. L. (2008) The metabolic syndrome. Endocrine reviews 29 (7), 777–822.
  4. Hamman R. F., Wing R. R., Edelstein S.L. (2006) Effect of weight loss with lifestyle intervention on risk of diabetes. Diabetes Care. 29, 2102–2107.