Photo: Getty Images
What do the following health conditions have in common?
• A large waistline (think apple shape)
• High triglyceride level (fat found in blood)
• Low levels of high-density lipoprotein (good) cholesterol levels
• High blood pressure
• High fasting blood sugar levels
If you guessed risk factors for health conditions such as diabetes and heart disease, then congratulations--you’re a winner! While these five conditions can compromise your health and increase your risk of developing more serious health problems, they can be manageable on an individual basis. Unfortunately for us, these conditions like to pack together just like teenage girls at the mall on a Sunday afternoon. Where you find one, you generally find more. Once three or more of these conditions are present, you have a more powerful foe to your health - metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is closely associated with obesity and is a leading risk factor in numerous serious health conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. As the rate of obesity in the United States continues to increase (to what some believe are epidemic proportions), so does the rate of metabolic syndrome. Approximately 25 percent of the adult population of the United States has metabolic syndrome. That equates to about 47 million people!
Metabolic syndrome risk factors are generally easily treatable with lifestyle changes. For example, weight loss and exercise can change that apple shape back to a pear, lower blood pressure, and cause blood sugar and cholesterol to snap to attention and get back in line. The results of a new study may offer additional help to stem the rise of metabolic syndrome.
The Swiss study tracked alcohol consumption of a group of 6,172 persons ranging in age from 35 to 75 years to observe the effect of alcohol consumption on type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome, and insulin resistance (HOMA-IR). Seventy-three percent of all participants were drinkers.