Home | Publications | Al Jamiat Volume 7 No. 4 | Metabolic Syndrome

Metabolic Syndrome

Also called Syndrome X or Insulin Resistance Syndrome

The incidence of obesity is rising in the developed and the undeveloped world.  Together with this, the incidence of the Metabolic Syndrome is also rising.  The Metabolic Syndrome is a group of conditions, if found in the same person, leads to heart disease and stroke.

Obesity and insulin resistance appear to be two of the main characteristics of the disease.  The disease is diagnosed if three or more of the following conditions are present:

 1.                  Abdominal obesity, also called central obesity or visceral obesity (fat around organs) or apple shaped. Here the waist circumference in the male is more than 102cm just above the pelvis, and more than 88cm in a female. Body mass index (BMI) more than 25 in males and more than 23 in females.

BMI = Weight in Kg. divided by Height in metres X Height in metres, e.g., wt 86 divided by (1.86 X 1.86) = 24.9

 2.                  Insulin resistance which is then, invariably followed by diabetes, impaired glucose tolerance or raised fasting glucose. Blood insulin levels are elevated.

 3.                  Elevated blood pressure more than 135/85.

 4.                  Elevated Triglycerides (fats) in the blood, Elevated cholesterol (with a low HDL (good cholesterol) and an elevated LDL (bad cholesterol).

 5.                  Raised C Reactive Protein, indicating inflammation in the body in the absence of chronic diseases.

   6.                  Other associated factors are a raised uric acid in the blood, a fatty liver, polycystic ovarian disease, etc.

Insulin resistance occurs when insulin is unable to open up the channels for glucose to get out of the blood stream into muscles and the liver thereby resulting in elevated blood glucose levels and diabetes.  The level of insulin rises in the blood as the body tries harder to push the glucose into the muscles and the liver.

 The Metabolic Syndrome is as yet not well understood although it has been described as early as 1920.  What is noticed is that there is a decline in the health of the person as the different conditions appear.  It is not known what starts the process.  However, obesity appears to play a major role in this condition although there are some cases that occur without obesity. It appears that obesity is followed closely by either high blood pressure or diabetes with insulin resistance, or raised cholesterol and raised fats in the blood.  The order in which they appear is not constant and varies in different individuals. However, sooner or later, if untreated, all the conditions slowly appear causing deterioration in health, ultimately resulting in a poor quality of life and finally a heart attack or a stroke or peripheral vascular disease requiring amputations of limbs.  This is a serious condition requiring us to take note of its existence and treat it seriously.  This syndrome can run in families.

 It has been noticed that, in the early stages of the syndrome, most of the characteristics of the syndrome can be reversed. This reversal can occur by weight reduction and increase in exercise, as reducing weight and becoming more physically active also help to drop the blood pressure, improve diabetes, lower cholesterol and fats in the blood and improve insulin resistance. It is imperative for individuals with the Metabolic Syndrome to lose weight and to become active as soon as possible.

 Do you have Metabolic Syndrome?

 If you suspect that you have Metabolic Syndrome, please consult with your doctor to confirm it. Please alert family members about this treatable condition.


 The aim of treatment is to reduce or eliminate the risk of heart disease and stroke.

All the conditions forming the syndrome need to be treated together, whilst a determined effort is made to decrease weight and increase activity.  Follow up by a doctor is essential.

What is required is a change in lifestyle forever. When we die depends on Allah Subahanahu Wata’aala.  How we live our lives, how active we are and what we eat depends on us.  Change in lifestyle must include normalizing weight, eating healthy, wholesome foods, decreasing the intake of sugars, salt, cholesterol, trans fats and saturated fats, stopping smoking and increasing activity (30 minutes brisk walk for 5 days a week).

Our body is not made to eat all the “rich” foods regularly and it is certainly not made to remain physically idle.

Our body is an Amaanah given to us by Allah Subahanahu Wata’aala.  It is an act of Ibadah to care for our body.

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