Obesity has been called an epidemic. It puzzles me that if we feel it is, why we are not doing more about it. For other potential epidemics like SARS and Bird Flu, we have spent millions in preparation for a problem that has not killed more than 200 people worldwide. Yet, we are concerned that the next generation may be the first in many decades to not live longer than the previous one because of obesity. The earliest manifestation of an obesity related health problem is a condition called Metabolic Syndrome. Here are the answers to 5 frequently asked questions about this condition.
What is metabolic Syndrome? It is not a disease but a collection of measurable changes in various systems of the body. Though it does not cause a specific disease, the collection of symptoms occurs in obese individuals with regularity and predictability.
What causes Metabolic Syndrome? In a word, obesity. When an individual accumulates enough intra-abdominal fat, certain metabolic processes are not able to be regulated normally. The abdominal fat produces a number of different chemicals that contribute to a number of abnormal responses in our body.
How do I know if I have Metabolic Syndrome? The easiest way to detect the possibility is with a Body Mass Index calculator or a tape measure. Body Mass Index is a ratio of height to weight. It is expressed as a number. Below 24 is usually considered normal. 25-29 is Over Weight. BMI of 30 or more is obesity. With a measuring tape, measure your waist at the umbilicus (belly button). If you are a man and your waist is over 40 inches or a woman with a waist over 36 inches you fall into the category of overweight or obese. People in this category are very likely to have metabolic syndrome.
How do you know if you have metabolic syndrome? Measure the possible abnormal processes. Evidence is mildly elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar of above 105 but less than 120, high triglycerides – a blood fat, and low HDL cholesterol. Over time one or more of these systems will fail and diabetes with hypertension will occur.
If I do not act, what are the possible consequences? Diabetes and Hypertension are risk factors for heart disease. This is a slow silent killer that is fatal 30% of the time when it first occurs. Spending the remainder of your life on a cocktail of medications for diabetes, cholesterol, hypertension, neuropathy, and heart disease is the consequence of ignoring it.
So many people are not ready for change and then get hit hard by disease. You need to find as many reasons as possible for you to take action. Find out reasons that make the difficulty of change worth the effort.