What is metabolic syndrome?

Dr Sandra
December 19, 2023

“Metabolic” Syndrome is named as such because it involves a cluster of metabolic abnormalities, particularly those related to how the body processes and utilises energy.

So, let's first understand what Metabolism is. Metabolism is like your body's engine that converts the food you eat into energy, helping you stay alive and do all your daily activities. It has two parts: one that breaks down food into smaller bits to get energy (like breaking down food into tiny pieces), and another that uses this energy to build and repair things in your body (like fixing your body when it gets hurt). Metabolism also helps control your body temperature, grow and stay healthy. It works differently for everyone and can be affected by things like your age, how active you are, and your genes. When your metabolism isn't working well, it can lead to health problems leading to a group of symptoms known as Metabolic Syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a complex puzzle of conditions and risk factors that, when assembled, significantly elevates the risk of serious health issues like heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes. Let's get into the pieces of this puzzle and discover how they fit together to impact your well-being. And, if you're a woman dealing with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome), stick around because we've got some exciting news to share!

The criteria to diagnose metabolic syndrome:

There are certain factors that contribute to metabolic syndrome, which collectively provide a comprehensive overview of an individual's health and risk factors. By considering these factors together, healthcare professionals can better assess an individual's risk and provide early intervention and guidance to manage and reduce the risks associated with metabolic syndrome.

Central obesity:Imagine your waist circumference as the first piece of this puzzle. For men, a waist circumference exceeding 40 inches (102 cm) and for women, surpassing 35 inches (88 cm) signals the presence of central obesity.

High blood pressure (hypertension):The second piece is your blood pressure. Consistently measuring at 130/85 mm Hg or higher means this piece is in place.

High blood sugar (hyperglycemia):Moving on, we encounter high blood sugar. A fasting blood glucose level of 100 mg/dL or higher adds another dimension to our puzzle.

High triglycerides:The fourth piece brings us high triglycerides, which come into play when your levels reach 150 mg/dL or above.

Low HDL cholesterol:Finally, low HDL cholesterol, often dubbed "good" cholesterol, emerges as the fifth piece. For men, less than 40 mg/dL and for women, less than 50 mg/dL defines this component.

Solving the puzzle:

Now that we've laid out the pieces, here's the crucial part: you're diagnosed with metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these risk factors. But how do these pieces connect?

The big picture:

Metabolic syndrome doesn't have a single cause but rather several contributing factors:


Insulin resistance

Physical inactivity


Imagine these factors as threads weaving through the pieces of the puzzle. The tighter they interlace, the greater the risk of cardiovascular diseases and type 2 diabetes.

Your path to health:

Thankfully, there's a way to navigate this intricate puzzle and improve your health. Lifestyle changes are key:

A balanced diet

Regular exercise

Weight management

These lifestyle choices can reshape your puzzle, reducing risk factors and promoting a healthier future.

PCOS and metabolic syndrome:

Polycystic Ovary Syndrome (PCOS) and metabolic syndrome are closely related due to shared factors such as insulin resistance, obesity, and abnormal lipid profiles. In PCOS, insulin resistance is common, contributing to elevated insulin levels, while metabolic syndrome is characterised by insulin resistance itself. Both conditions often occur in individuals with obesity, especially around the abdomen, further exacerbating insulin resistance and metabolic abnormalities. Additionally, women with PCOS tend to have higher triglycerides and lower HDL (good) cholesterol levels, mirroring some criteria used to diagnose metabolic syndrome. The overlapping features highlight the strong connection between PCOS and metabolic syndrome, emphasising the importance of managing these conditions holistically.

At Curate Health, we're committed to helping women with PCOS reverse it holistically through our platform. Our mobile app provides you with personalised guidance, nutritional support, exercise routines, and a supportive community to help you take control of your PCOS journey. With Curate Health https://www.curate.health/ , you're not alone in this. Together, we're reshaping the puzzle of women's health and empowering you to live your best life. Explore our app today and discover a healthier, happier you.