Metabolic Syndrome

  • Medical Author:
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

  • Medical Editor: William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR
    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    William C. Shiel Jr., MD, FACP, FACR

    Dr. Shiel received a Bachelor of Science degree with honors from the University of Notre Dame. There he was involved in research in radiation biology and received the Huisking Scholarship. After graduating from St. Louis University School of Medicine, he completed his Internal Medicine residency and Rheumatology fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. He is board-certified in Internal Medicine and Rheumatology.

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How common is metabolic syndrome?

Metabolic syndrome is quite common. Approximately 32% of the population in the U.S. has metabolic syndrome, and about 85% of those with type 2 diabetes have metabolic syndrome. Around 25% of adults in Europe and Latin America are estimated to have the condition, and rates are rising in developing East Asian countries. Within the US, Mexican Americans have the highest prevalence of metabolic syndrome. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age, and about 40% of people over 60 are affected.

What causes, and what are the risk factors of metabolic syndrome?

As is true with many medical conditions, genetics and the environment both play important roles in the development of the metabolic syndrome.

Genetic factors influence each individual component of the syndrome, and the syndrome itself. A family history that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and early heart disease greatly increases the chance that an individual will develop the metabolic syndrome.

Environmental issues such as low activity level, sedentary lifestyle, and progressive weight gain also contribute significantly to the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is present in about 5% of people with normal body weight, 22% of those who are overweight and 60% of those considered obese. Adults who continue to gain five or more pounds per year raise their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by up to 45%.

While obesity itself is likely the greatest risk factor, others factors of concern include:

  • Post-menopausal women
  • Smoking
  • Eating an excessively high carbohydrate diet
  • Sedentary lifestyle
Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 3/17/2016
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