As is true with many medical conditions, genetics and the environment both play important roles in the development of the metabolic syndrome.
Genetic factors influence each individual component of the syndrome, and the syndrome itself. A family history that includes type 2 diabetes, hypertension, and early heart disease greatly increases the chance that an individual will develop the metabolic syndrome.
Environmental issues such as low activity level, sedentary lifestyle, and progressive weight gain also contribute significantly to the risk of developing the metabolic syndrome.
Metabolic syndrome is present in about 5% of people with normal body weight, 22% of those who are overweight and 60% of those considered obese. Adults who continue to gain five or more pounds per year raise their risk of developing metabolic syndrome by up to 45%.
While obesity itself is likely the greatest risk factor, others factors of concern include:
- women who are post-menopausal
- eating an excessively high carbohydrate diet
- lack of activity (even without weight change)
- consuming an alcohol-free diet
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