Metabolic Syndrome: The Kitchen Sink of Conditions

Metabolic Syndrome Metabolic syndrome is incredibly common, affecting about one in four adults.
Insulin resistance on its own can be dangerous, as you’ve just discovered. But there’s worse news: If you have it, you may also have a host of related problems that tend to cluster together like birds on a telephone wire. Each of these problems on its own raises your risk of heart disease, but if you have three or more of them, your risk is double what it would be if you had only one. You’re practically a heart attack waiting to happen, even if your levels of “bad” LDL cholesterol are normal.

This cluster of problems is known as metabolic syndrome. If you have this condition, you’re also an excellent candidate for diabetes, even if your blood sugar levels aren’t high yet. Indeed, 85 percent of people with type 2 diabetes have metabolic syndrome.Metabolic syndrome is incredibly common here, affecting about one in four adults. Anyone can develop it, but you’re much more likely to get it as you get older. In one large study of men and women age 50 and older, 44 percent had it. If you’re carrying extra pounds, you’re even more likely to have it. Getting older, gaining weight, and being sedentary all contribute to the syndrome, but in many ways, this is a condition that you eat your way into. Diets low in fiber, high in calories, full of saturated fat, and loaded with foods that boost blood sugar quickly all contribute.

According to the U.S. National Institute of Health’s National Cholesterol Education Program, you have the syndrome if you have three or more of these problems.


  • 1.

    Belly fat.

    A big belly isn’t just somewhere you’ve put on extra weight. From your body’s standpoint, fat around the middle is a very different kind of fat than, say, fat on your thighs. It’s easier for this kind of fat to get into the bloodstream, where it can wreak havoc and increase the risk of heart disease. Indeed, researchers now suspect a large waist may be a better marker for heart disease risk than being overweight or obese in general.

  • 2.

    High triglyceride levels.

    These fats are stored in the blood, ready to be broken down for energy. Even a mild elevation can increase your risk of heart disease.

  • 3.

    Low HDL cholesterol levels.

    You’ve probably heard a lot of talk about “good” HDL cholesterol. It’s the kind your body uses to pull “bad” LDL cholesterol out of the blood and transport it back to the liver, where it’s broken down. Levels of HDL are often low in people with metabolic syndrome.

  • 4.

    High blood pressure.

    Blood pressure is also often elevated in metabolic syndrome. It may not be high enough for your doctor to diagnose you as having high blood pressure, but along with the other factors, it’s bad for your heart.

  • 5.

    High fasting glucose levels.

    Your blood sugar may not be high enough to qualify you as having diabetes, but it still increases your risk of developing both diabetes and heart disease. The cause is insulin resistance. 

Want to stay smart and healthy?

Get our weekly Health Reads newsletter

how we use your e-mail

Some people like to travel by train because 
it combines the slowness of a car with the cramped public exposure of 
an airplane.

Dennis Miller

I think my pilot was a little inexperienced. We were sitting on the runway, and he said, “OK, folks, we’re gonna be taking off in a just few—whoa! Here we go.”

Kevin Nealon

“I can’t wait until your vacation is over.” 
—Everyone following you on Instagram


A man knocked on my door and asked for a donation toward the local swimming pool. So I gave him a glass of water.

Comedian Greg Davies

Funny Jokes

Just found the worst page in the entire dictionary. What I saw was disgraceful, disgusting, dishonest, and disingenuous.


Funny Jokes

Client: We need you to log in to the YouTube and make all our company videos viral.


Funny Jokes

My cat just walked up to the paper shredder and said, “Teach me 
everything you know.”


Funny Jokes

“Just because you can’t dance doesn’t mean you shouldn’t dance.” 

@yoyoha (Josh Hara)

Funny Jokes

My parents didn’t want to move to Florida, but they turned 60 and that’s the law.

—Jerry Seinfeld

Funny Jokes

Q: What do you call an Amish guy with his hand in a horse’s mouth?

A: A mechanic.