Syndrome X

Syndrome X or metabolic syndrome, is a growing health concern.

by: Dr Suzanne Slabbert | 11 Jan 2011

Metabolic syndrome, also known as Syndrome X, is becoming increasingly prevalent in the western world. In fact, one in every four South Africans may already suffer from it.


What are the risks?

Metabolic syndrome can have serious health implications. It predisposes sufferers to developing heart disease, having strokes or developing Type 2 Diabetes – and all three of these diseases come with serious further complications.


Do you have Metabolic Syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is the result of a cluster of important risk factors that include:

  • Raised blood fat levels, like cholesterol or triglycerides
  • Hypertension (high blood pressure)
  • High blood sugar, high insulin levels or insulin resistance
  • Obesity (a body mass index of 30 or more).


The most important central factor in this syndrome is visceral or central obesity. This type of obesity refers to the accumulation of fat in the lower abdomen.


If you have three or more of these conditions, you will be defined as suffering from metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is also linked to other conditions like polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), menopause and advancing age.


What’s the solution?

The most important lifestyle change you can make to avoid developing metabolic syndrome is to increase your physical activity. All you need to do is take a 30-minute brisk walk every day to achieve this – and most people should be able to fit this into their schedules. If you have any doubts about whether you are allowed to do exercise, check with your doctor.


If you are overweight, it is also important to drop a few kilos. Research conducted among obese patients has shown that a sustained weight loss of 10% results in dramatic improvement in the symptoms of metabolic syndrome. It is strongly advisable for obese patients to consult a qualified dietician to work out a personalised and balanced eating plan. Avoid fad diets because although they may produce an initial weight loss, this is difficult to sustain in the long term.


It is particularly important to prevent childhood obesity, as obese children are more likely to become obese adults. Cultivate a habit of healthy food choices and physical activity in your household from when your children are very young. Encourage them to partake in sports activities, limit prolonged television and play station exposure and discourage snacking on junk foods.


Metabolic syndrome can be prevented or managed by making a few small but effective lifestyle changes. It’s worth it for your health and wellbeing to start right away.



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