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Metabolic syndrome

Last updated: December 18, 2020

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Metabolic syndrome describes a constellation of medical conditions which increase the risk for several health problems, primarily cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and fatty liver.These conditions include insulin resistance (considered the main risk factor), hypertension, dyslipidemia, and abdominal obesity. The primary goal in treating metabolic syndrome is therefore to initiate lifestyle changes, which include dietary modifications and physical exercise. These measures often result in lowered blood pressure and triglyceride levels, as well as increased insulin sensitivity. Symptoms that do not respond sufficiently to these changes, such as persistent hypertension or hyperglycemia, are treated with drugs (e.g., ACE inhibitors, metformin).

Metabolic syndrome

  • Presence of ≥ 3 of the following conditions (or already receiving medical treatment for them)


Weight Status Body Mass Index (BMI)
Underweight < 18.5
Normal or Healthy Weight 18.5–24.9
Overweight ≥ 25–29.9
Class I Obesity 30–34.9
Class II Obesity 35–39.9
Class III Obesity ≥ 40

Morbid obesity is diagnosed when the patients meet ≥ 1 of the following criteria:


  • First-line: lifestyle modifications
    • Dietary changes: calorie restriction, healthy foods (e.g., fruit/vegetables, protein-rich, unsaturated fats, sodium-restricted)
    • Physical activity: minimum of 30 minutes moderate exercise per day (2.5 hours per week) , which increases insulin sensitivity, lowers blood pressure, and promotes weight loss
  • Medical therapy: treat hypertension (e.g., ACE inhibitors), diabetes mellitus, and dyslipidemia (e.g., with statins)
  • Bariatric surgery: if BMI ≥ 40 and no success with dietary and lifestyle changes


Metabolic syndrome is associated with increased risk of:

We list the most important complications. The selection is not exhaustive.

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