Metabolic Syndrome


Metabolic syndrome is when a person has several health problems having to do with the body’s metabolism. Metabolic syndrome has had different names. It has been called syndrome X or insulin resistance syndrome.

Five health problems are considered part of the metabolic syndrome: slightly high blood pressure, slightly high blood sugar, high triglycerides (a fat in the blood), low HDL (“good” cholesterol) and increased abdominal fat (waist circumference). All of these health problems interact with each other and increase the risk for diabetes and heart disease.

A person is diagnosed with metabolic syndrome when three or more of the following risk factors are present:

  • Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher
  • Fasting blood glucose of 110 or higher
  • Triglycerides of 150 or higher
  • HDL cholesterol of 40 or less for men and 50 or less for women
  • Waist circumference of 40 inches or higher in men and 35 inches or higher in women

People with metabolic syndrome may feel healthy. That is why it is important for the public to be aware of the metabolic syndrome. All of the risk factors can be easily measured. The good news is that the risk factors can be reversed. A healthy diet and daily physical activity can decrease all of the risk factors. A recent study in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that fitness in early adulthood can significantly reduce the chance of developing metabolic syndrome later in life.

Submitted by Karen Halderson, MPH, RD, LD
Extension Diabetes Coordinator
Adapted from materials from the American Diabetes Association and the American College of Cardiology