Do you have or are you at risk for metabolic syndrome? What is Metabolic syndrome and how can you prevent it??

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of conditions which include: increased blood pressure, increased blood sugar, increased cholesterol and excess body fat around the waist (APPLE SHAPE). Having a combination of 3 or more of these factors increases your risk for heart disease, diabetes and stroke.

Metabolic syndrome is quite common, 32% of the adults in the U.S., 25% in Europe and Latin America and between 39%(urban) and 52%(rural)prevalence in South Africa.

The key numbers to watch out for are:

  1. Waist circumference – max 89cm in women and 102cm in men (APPLE SHAPE)
  2. Blood pressure – higher than 130/85
  3. Triglycerides – higher than 1.7mmol/L
  4. Reduced HDL – less than 1.04mmol/L (men) and less than 1.3mmol/L (women)
  5. Increased blood sugar levels – 5.6mmol/L or higher
  6. Other risk factors are – smoking and inactivity

With a combination of 3 or more of these key factors your risk of developing heart disease and Diabetes(type2) increases dramatically.

Type 2 Diabetes is caused by insulin resistance – which refers to the reduced ability of the cells to respond to insulin. Insulin acts by promoting the transport of blood sugar from the blood stream into the muscles and other tissues. Sugar is damaging in the blood vessels, it needs to be in the muscles and tissues, for the body to be able to use is as an energy source.

SO….How can you minimize your risk and prevent Metabolic Syndrome  from progressing?

Aggressive interventions are required as is a lifelong commitment to a healthy lifestyle. Here are a few guidelines:

1. DIET – there are various trends currently, including a Mediterranean diet, ie rich in “good” fats, reasonable carbohydrates and protein from fish and chicken. Another current trend is to drastically reduce carbohydrate intake, while increasing fats and proteins, like the so called “banting” diet. A dietician can advise a balanced diet tailored to suit the individual. Whatever your choice to aim is to reduce stored body fat by changing the dynamic – energy in (food) must be less than energy out(exercise/metabolism) to create an energy deficit which is called weight loss!

2. EXERCISE – The recommendation is to start with 30 minutes, 5 days per week (first check with your doctor). Exercise on its own has a positive effect on blood sugar levels, cholesterol and blood pressure.


  • Find an exercise buddy
  • Take a walk during your lunch break
  • Increase fresh fruit and veg and reduce fats
  • Shop at healthy food stores
  • Make sure your children are eating a healthy diet
  • Encourage children to play outside, keep active


Mayo Clinic, Medicine.Net, NCBI, PHCFM