Metabolic SyndromeFor the past two newsletters, I have focused on the effects that sugar has on our bodies. In the first newsletter, I discussed the immediate effects of sugar in blood sugar levels. In the second one, I focused on insulin resistance, which occurs with long-term sugar abuse. This month I would like to focus on metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is on the rise in the United States and generally follows insulin resistance. In essence, metabolic syndrome refers to a group of risk factors that occur together and increase the risk for stroke, coronary heart disease and type two diabetes. Researchers have not been able to identify whether the syndrome is due to a single cause but one thing that’s certain is ALL of the risks for the syndrome are related to obesity.

The two most important risk factors for developing metabolic syndrome are:

  • Extra weight around the middle and upper parts of the body. This is often described as “apple-shaped.”
  • Insulin resistance-which as you learned in the last newsletter is when the body uses insulin less effectively leading to a rise in blood sugar and fat levels accompanied by significant difficulty losing weight.

Additional risk factors that lead to metabolic syndrome include aging, genetic predisposition, hormonal changes and LACK OF EXERCISE. People who have metabolic syndrome often have two other problems that can either cause the condition or make it worse and that is excessive blood clotting and increased markers for signs of inflammation throughout the body. Inflammation in general is highly linked to disease.

So how do you know if you are headed towards or have metabolic syndrome?
Metabolic syndrome is present when you have three of more of the following signs:

  • Blood Pressure equal to or higher than 130/85mmHg
  • Fasting blood sugar equal to or higher than 100 mg/dL
  • Large waist circumference:
  • » Men-40 inches or more
  • » Women- 35 inches or more
  • Low HDL cholesterol:
  • » Men-under 40 mg/dL
  • » Women- under 50 mg/dL
  • Triglycerides equal to or higher than 150 mg/dL

Whether we are discussing sugar handling issues, insulin resistance or metabolic syndrome, all three are aided by exercise or promoted by lack of exercise. What you eat also plays a critical role; however, we have got to get moving as a nation if we are to reduce the obesity in ourselves and in our children. Obesity in children is at an all time high. Our children come to understand their relationship to food and their bodies by the example we set and what we teach them. We are failing and we are getting sicker by the day as a nation.

If you are new to exercise start simple. You are much more likely to have success if you begin slowly. Honor where you are and find something that you like to do. Recently I had a conversation with a woman who expressed how much she detested exercise but in prodding further, I found she loves to ride bikes. She is now riding her new bike all over town, losing weight and loving it. Do whatever makes you feel good, don’t fight yourself. You may be surprised to find you actually like exercise and in addition, you’ll feel and look better.

If you are new to our newsletter and wish to review the past articles on sugar and its effects on the body, please visit our website at and search under articles by Dr. Pat for these and other articles that may be of interest to you.