A new study in JAMA, reports that about one third of U.S. adults have metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a collection of conditions that together increase the risk of heart disease and stroke. These conditions that make up metabolic syndrome are high blood pressure, diabetes or high blood sugar, excess abdominal fat around the waist, and high cholesterol. When all these occur together or in some combination, the more you have the more your risk increases, the chance of developing other serious health conditions also increases.
Over the years, the factors that make up metabolic syndrome have increased in American adults. This comes with rises in obesity and a so-called epidemic in this country, along with rises in those who suffer from diabetes. Many of these problems come from the American diet which is full of high fat, high sugar, and ever processed foods. Another cause is the American lifestyle which puts an emphasis on sedentary activities, and long office working hours. Fortunately for Americans, the JAMA study found that rates remained mostly stable between 2008 and 2012.
Metabolic syndrome is considered present when people have three or more of the risk factors: abdominal obesity, high blood levels of triglycerides, low blood levels of "good" HDL cholesterol, high blood pressure, and high blood sugar levels. If these occur together, the chances for heart disease, stroke or any other future cardiovascular problem is greatly increased. This is especially compared to having just one of these issues alone. It is a little scary to think that things can be kept in check mostly by diet and exercise pose such a health threat to the American public.
The study used data collected between 2003 and 2012 from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. What the researchers found was that about 1/3rd of adults in the US over the age of 20 had metabolic syndrome. Remember, that’s at least three of the conditions coupled together. The study also found that more women fit the description than men. A bit over 35% were considered to have metabolic syndrome, while only 30% of men qualified. The syndrome was most common in people of Hispanic decent and the appearance of it was more common the older people got.
The good news is that between 2008 and 2012, the overall incidence of metabolic syndrome in the U.S. stayed pretty stable. The fact that these numbers weren’t increasing is great news for Americans. Numbers even decreased among women, which means women are being proactive about their health, weight and eating habits. This research should be cautionary to all Americans who suffer from any of these conditions or have metabolic syndrome. Maintaining a healthy, active lifestyle can add years to your life. Hopefully in the next few years as the unhealthy foods, and processed meats are exposed – more people will choose healthier options. Healthier options will reduce waistlines, fight obesity and diabetes and hopefully reduce the number of people affected by metabolic syndrome.