Newsletter Article

Metabolic Syndrome, Diet, & Exercise

Metabolic syndrome (MS) is a serious health problem estimated to affect as much as 25 percent of the United States population. [1] Metabolic syndrome is defined as a combination of cardiovascular risk factors including insulin resistance, abdominal obesity, hypertension, and dyslipidemia. [2] People who have developed MS need to implement serious lifestyle changes in order to reduce their risks for developing cardiovascular disease and diabetes, including a change in diet and increased levels of physical activity.

One of the primary reasons for the increasing occurrence of metabolic syndrome is the typical American diet, which is calorie dense and high in unhealthy fats, sugars, and salt. [3] Overconsumption of sugar contributes to insulin resistance and obesity; too many unhealthy fats contribute to dyslipidemia and obesity; high salt intake contributes to hypertension. Maintaining a body mass index (BMI) within the normal range and consuming a diet low in saturated fats and cholesterol and high in fruits, vegetables, and dietary fiber are beneficial in reducing cardiovascular risk.[4]

Metabolic syndrome can also be prevented and controlled through physical activity, including both cardiorespiratory and resistance exercise. [5] Adults should accumulate at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week. Exercise can be broken up into bouts to achieve the total recommended amount per day, but should be maintained for at least 10 minutes per session. If a person is not able to meet these minimum requirements, they can still benefit from some level of physical activity.

The occurrence of metabolic syndrome is continuing to rise and is a major concern around world. If metabolic syndrome is not dealt with and lifestyle changes are not made, these combined risk factors increase the risk of chronic disease and death from a cardiovascular event.