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
Metabolic syndrome is the
result of a cluster of important risk factors that include:
blood fat levels, like cholesterol or triglycerides
(high blood pressure)
blood sugar, high insulin levels or insulin resistance
(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.