What causes metabolic syndrome?
Although some people are genetically prone to developing metabolic syndrome, others develop it as result of their lifestyle or other circumstances that lead to the five risk factors: high blood glucose (sugar), low levels of HDL (“good”) cholesterol in the blood, high levels of triglycerides in the blood, large waist circumference or “apple-shaped” body and high blood pressure.
Who’s at risk for metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome has become increasingly common in the United States. Over 34% of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. It’s also increasing globally.
Several factors increase the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome:
- Obesity/overweight: Obesity is an important potential cause of metabolic syndrome. Excessive fat in and around the abdomen (stomach) is strongly associated with metabolic syndrome. However, the reasons abdominal obesity and metabolic syndrome seem to be linked are complex and not fully understood.
- Insulin resistance: Metabolic syndrome is closely associated with a generalized metabolic disorder called insulin resistance. This is when the body can't use insulin efficiently. Some people are genetically predisposed to insulin resistance.
- Race and gender: Although Black men are less likely than white men to have metabolic syndrome, Black women have a higher rate than white women.
- Age: Risk for metabolic syndrome increases with age.
Many factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome can be addressed through lifestyle changes such as diet, exercise and weight loss. By making these changes, you can greatly reduce your risks.