Obesity and Metabolic Syndrome

There is now evidence supporting the effectiveness of programs of physical activity to treat obesity and metabolic syndrome but there is some evidence that the optimal level and frequency of physical activity are unknown. Currently the challenge for doctors is how best to motivate people to participate in and adhere to programs of physical activity used as an effective treatment and prevention for metabolic syndrome.

Obesity is a leading cause of adult diseases and the number of overweight adults is increasing worldwide. This increase in the incidence of overweight is not the result of improved nutrition, but the increasing availability of energy from processed food products and foods that are high in saturated fats. As a result of a lack of proper dietary nutrition and physical activity, more than fifty percent of adults with obesity are considered to be ‘metabolically obese’. Obesity is a serious disorder and can lead to chronic diseases such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes and kidney problems.

There is an increased risk of developing metabolic syndrome when obesity increases in intensity. The term metabolic syndrome was first used to describe a group of conditions that may have been caused by metabolic abnormality, but the term was later expanded to include other conditions. Metabolic syndrome has three separate criteria and these are hypertension, high blood pressure (hypertension), and abnormal glucose levels (hyperglycemia). Obesity and metabolic syndrome often co-exist, which adds further complexity to diagnosing and treating the condition.

Obese people are at higher risk of developing several cardiovascular problems including heart attack and stroke. Diabetes, high cholesterol, and hypertension also have greater health risks with obesity. Metabolic syndrome is linked to other conditions such as cancer, osteoporosis, kidney disease, kidney failure, and depression. While the specific causes of metabolic syndrome are not well understood, there is some evidence linking the development of the condition with a lack of physical activity, poor diet, and poor nutrition.

Metabolic syndrome is characterized by the presence of a cluster of symptoms including high blood pressure, excessive weight gain, high cholesterol, irregular blood sugar levels, and abnormal glucose level. A physician may suspect the presence of the syndrome based on the presence of any of the following symptoms: abnormal weight loss, unexplained thirst, pain in the abdomen or lower back, feeling fatigued, nausea or vomiting, loss of appetite, irregular heartbeats, dizziness, rapid breathing, dark urine, jaundice or yellow skin rash, and stomach pain.

Most doctors prescribe medication to manage the symptoms of obesity and metabolic syndrome but usually, the treatment is limited to physical activity. Physical activity stimulates the muscles to burn off fat and increases the metabolism, while physical activity also improves circulation. Exercising provides a boost in immune system function, which may reduce the risk of infection, and stimulates the production of red blood cells. While not all people respond positively to exercise, even people who take medications to control their diabetes are much less likely to develop complications such as diabetes if they engage in regular activity.

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