Having a “pot
belly” could be more than just a cosmetic concern. It may be one
of the traits of metabolic syndrome, which increases the risk of
developing diabetes, heart disease, and even strokes, says Dr Shama.
If you have
abdominal obesity, beware that it may be one of the visible traits
of a syndrome that predicts untoward health consequences called
metabolic syndrome. About quarter of Americans are said at be
affected with metabolic syndrome. Obesity, especially abdominal is
one of the most important risk factors in the development of
metabolic syndrome. Also genetic predisposition, high carbohydrate (carb)
intake, physical inactivity, smoking, and postmenopausal state in
women can all affect towards development of metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome has serious consequences as it increases the risk
of developing diabetes, heart disease, and even strokes. Diabetes
leads to increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke and
infections. Hence it is important to recognize if you have this
syndrome as certain measures can be taken to prevent these serious
consequences. If you have abdominal obesity / over weight get
checked for other possible traits that may suggest metabolic
Three factors out of the following is diagnostic of metabolic
Waist circumference of more than 40 inches in men or greater than
35inches in women.
*Triglycerides (determined by blood test) > 150
*HDL (determined by blood test) < 40 in men & < 50 in
*High blood pressure > 130/85
*Fasting blood sugar > 100
Note, some men may develop multiple metabolic risk factors
with only marginal increases in their waist circumferences [37 to 39
in] - such men have genetic contribution.
Key clinical implication of a diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is
identification of a patient needing aggressive lifestyle
modification. Focusing on weight reduction and increased physical
activity has shown to prevent the serious consequences mentioned
above. The standard exercise recommended is a daily minimum
of 30 minutes of moderate-intensity (such as brisk walking) physical
activity. Increasing the level of physical activity appears to
further enhance the beneficial effects. Also, diet should consist of
foods low in saturated fat, increased complex carbs (as in whole
grain products, vegetables, legumes, peas, beans), and select foods
of plant and marine origin.
Your doctor may also recommend the general aspects of cardiovascular
risk factor reduction as it may be applicable. May include treatment
of hypertension, cessation of smoking, glycemic control in
diabetics, administration of aspirin, and lowering of serum
cholesterol according to recommended guidelines
Other associations — The metabolic syndrome has also been
associated with several obesity-related disorders including fatty
liver disease, chronic kidney disease, polycystic ovary syndrome and
As you can see having a “pot belly” could be more than just a
cosmetic concern, so take action now!
The contents are meant for informative, educational purposes
only. Formal recommendations can only be made by physicians involved
in your care. Please check with your physician before acting on any
part of this article.