October 22, 2014
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Obesity

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Metabolic syndrome

The Canadian Diabetes Association has defined metabolic syndrome as "a multifaceted condition characterized by a distinctive constellation of abnormalities that include abdominal obesity, hypertension (high blood pressure), dyslipidemia (high cholesterol), insulin resistance and dysglycemia."

One of the health risks associated with being overweight or obese is metabolic syndrome. Metabolic syndrome (previously known as syndrome X and insulin resistance syndrome) is now considered to be an important early sign of coronary artery disease and type 2 diabetes. The concern with increased insulin resistance is that it causes poor blood sugar control, high blood pressure, and abnormal cholesterol and triglyceride levels. These are all risk factors that make up the metabolic syndrome.

The table below outlines the North American definition of metabolic syndrome.

North American definition of metabolic syndrome

Three or more of the following risk factors:

  • abdominal obesity - large waist circumference
    • over 102 cm (40 inches) for men
    • over 88 cm (35 inches) for women
  • blood pressure equal to or over 130/85 mm Hg
  • HDL-C (high-density lipoprotein)
    • less than 1.0 mmol/L for men
    • less than 1.3 mmol/L for women
  • triglycerides equal to or over 1.7 mmol/L
  • fasting blood glucose equal to or over 6.1 mmol/L

Although other definitions of metabolic syndrome are used in other countries, in all cases, abdominal obesity is an important part of the definition.

Other health risks associated with overweight and obesity include dyslipidemia (abnormal cholesterol and/or triglycerides), gallbladder disease, obstructive sleep apnea, and certain types of cancer (breast, colon, endometrial, kidney, and esophageal cancers).

People who have been identified with abdominal obesity or one of the risk factors associated with metabolic syndrome (i.e., high blood pressure, abnormal cholesterol or triglyceride levels, or elevated blood sugar) should be monitored for these risk factors by their doctor.


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