What is Metabolic Syndrome ?

cartoon of a man's waist being measured by a doctor. Obesity is a symptom of metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a term often used by nutritionists to define those risk factors associated with metabolism. It is also extended to other conditions associated with metabolic malfunctioning. It appears to be a combination of problems associated with diabetes, high blood pressure (hypertension) and being overweight (obesity). All these are factors for increasing the risk of heart attacks and stroke amongst a host of other cardiovascular issues. At the moment it is thought to affect just under one in four adults in the United Kingdom.


The refined definition proposed by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) states that at least three of the following risk factors must be evident:-

Visceral obesity (high fat levels around the abdomen in particular), hypertension (high blood pressure), increased triglyceride and glucose levels, and decreased high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels (Kassi et al., 2011).

What Are The Role Of Free Radicals In MS ?

One of the key biochemical events which is probably responsible for the pathology of metabolic syndrome is the development of oxidative stress. Here, reactive oxygen species (ROS) are generated as free radicals during metabolism. Under normal physiological situations, a balance is maintained between the generation of oxygen radicals which are then removed by a variety of enzymes and antioxidants. In the pathological state such as MS, there is an increase in oxidative capacity with a corresponding decrease in antioxidant capacity. This results in an imbalance that raises the level of oxidative stress. This measure indicates that cells and tissues will be subjected to the toxic effects of various free radicals (Hutcheson and Rocic, 2012).


Metabolic Syndrome and many of the individual health consequences associated with it are ever increasing in there incidence. The prevalence of the condition means that there is considerable interest in functional foods and various supplements which offer antioxidants as the backbone of their offering. Consumption generally of a range of foods which have increased or improved delivery of antioxidants has been associated with a reduction in many factors associated with MS (Andresen and Fernandez, 2013; Pattyn et al., 2013).


Andersen, C.J., Fernandez, M.L. (2013) Dietary strategies to reduce metabolic syndrome. Rev. Endocr. Metab. Disord. 14 pp. 241–54.

Hutcheson, R., Rocic, P. (2012) The metabolic syndrome, oxidative stress, environment, and cardiovascular disease: the great exploration. Exp. Diabetes Res. pp. 1–13

Kassi, E., Pervanidou, P., Kaltsas, G., Chrousos, G. (2011) Metabolic syndrome: definitions and controversies. BMC Med. 9 pp. 48

Pattyn, N., Cornelissen, V.A., Eshghi, S.R.T., Vanhees, L. (2013) The effect of exercise on the cardiovascular risk factors constituting the metabolic syndrome. Sports Med. 43 pp. 121–33

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