Metabolic Syndrome: Risks and Prevention

Once known in the medical community as “syndrome X” or “insulin resistance syndrome”, metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions — increased blood pressure, high blood sugar, excess body fat around the waist, and abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels — that occur together, increasing one’s risk of heart disease, stroke and diabetes. Although it sounds mysterious, Syndrome X is very common.

As is true with many medical conditions, genetics and the environment both play important roles in the development of metabolic syndrome. Genetic factors influence each individual component of the syndrome and the syndrome itself. A family history that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and early heart disease greatly increases the chance that an individual will develop metabolic syndrome. On the other hand, environmental issues such as low activity level, sedentary lifestyle, and progressive weight gain also contribute significantly to the risk of developing metabolic syndrome.

The following factors increase your chances of having metabolic syndrome:

  • Age — Your risk of metabolic syndrome increases with age.
  • Race — In the United States, Mexican-Americans appear to be at the greatest risk of developing metabolic syndrome.
  • Obesity — Carrying too much weight, especially in your abdomen, increases your risk of metabolic syndrome.
  • Diabetes — You’re more likely to have metabolic syndrome if you had diabetes during pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or if you have a family history of type 2 diabetes.
  • Other diseases — Your risk of metabolic syndrome is higher if you’ve ever had cardiovascular disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or polycystic ovary syndrome.

The good news is that with changes to diet and exercise, you can prevent, control, or even reverse metabolic syndrome. If you don’t, you could develop significant health risks related to diabetes, heart disease, and stroke as part of the condition. Because your risk for metabolic syndrome increases with age, it’s important to start adjusting your health habits early on.

If you are diagnosed with metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes will likely be the prescription. While medication is often necessary for those with this diagnosis, changes in diet and exercise can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems related to metabolic syndrome. 

If you are looking for treatment for severe obesity and the life-threatening conditions that often accompany it, schedule an appointment at VIPSurg. Our expert team can help find the right treatment for you. 

metabolic syndrome

The Role of Genes in Obesity

Genes influence every aspect of human development, physiology, and adaptation, and research shows that genetics also play a role in obesity. However, we still know relatively little when it comes to which specific genes contribute to obesity. Nor do we know the importance of the complex interplay between our genetic makeup and our life experiences.

Obesity Word DNA Strand Medical Research Fat HereditaryWhat we do know is that genes do not always predict one’s future health. Genes and behavior probably are both needed for a person to be overweight. In some cases, various genes may increase one’s susceptibility for obesity and require outside factors such as plentiful food supply or not enough physical activity.

It’s well established that overweight and the different forms of obesity are conditions tending to center within a family. A person with a family history has a two to eight times higher risk than a person with no family history of obesity, and even higher risk is observed in cases of severe obesity.

The most common forms of obesity are probably the result of variations within a large number of genes. Sequence variations within a pool of 56 different genes have been reported as being related to obesity; however, only ten of those genes showed positive results in at least five different studies.

Any attempt to explain the obesity epidemic has to consider both genetics and how (the environment) one lives as well. One explanation that is often cited is that the same genes that helped our ancestors survive occasional famines are now being challenged by environments in which food is plentiful year-round.

As of now, genetic tests are not useful for directing personal diet or physical activity regimens. Studies on genetic variation affecting response to changes in diet and physical activity are still at an early stage. It stands to reason that doing a better job of explaining obesity in terms of genes and environmental factors could help encourage people who are trying to achieve and maintain a healthy weight.

Obesity is a serious public health problem because it is associated with some of the leading causes of death in the U.S. and worldwide, including diabetes, heart disease, stroke, and some types of cancer, but unfortunately, families can’t change their genes. They can, however, change the family environment to encourage healthier eating habits and more physical activity. Those changes can improve the health of family members and the family health history of the next generation.

If you live in the Las Vegas area and are interested in weight-loss surgery, schedule a consultation at VIP Surg.