What exactly is Metabolic Syndrome and why does it matter?
The term Metabolic Syndrome is largely credited to Dr Gerald Reaven who initially termed it “syndrome X”, a collection of symptoms associated with insulin resistance that significantly increase your risk of acquiring cardiovascular disease. He was one of the first to note that low fat/ high carb diets should be avoided when treating Syndrome X or Metabolic Syndrome.
You are considered to be suffering from metabolic syndrome if you exhibit any 3 of the following five bio-markers:
- Waist circumference: => 40″ (102cm) men, 35″ (89cm) women
- Fasting triglycerides: => 150 mg/dl
- HDL-C: <40 mg/dl (men), < 50 mg/dl (women)
- Blood pressure: => 130/85 mmHg or use of hypertensive medication
- Fasting glucose => 100mg/dl or use of hyperglycemia medication
Note that weight is NOT a factor but waist circumference IS. This is in line with my earlier post where I discuss the fact that both weight and BMI are largely irrelevant when it comes to assessing your CVD risk. Note also that many of these markers will go “hand-in-hand” e.g. if your waist breaks the above limits then you will probably have at least one, possibly 2 of the others as well, placing you firmly in metabolic territory.
Living “Within Limits”
So, let’s say you are male and your waist is 39.9″ (102 cm, or just within limits) and you have no other markers for metabolic syndrome. Can you therefore consider yourself to be “in the clear” and at low risk of CVD? Absolutely NOT, and here’s why..
Even though your risk might be considered “reduced” it certainly is is not “minimal” since with a waist of 102cm you are WAY over the limit of 94cm/90cm for what is considered “minimal risk”. Hence, don’t be fooled into thinking that just because you are NOT metabolic that you are entirely risk free. This is DEFINITELY not the case and is the reason that when it comes to waist, probably the best bio-marker and easiest to measure, your goal should ALWAYS be the lower limits as defined in the link above.