We often joke about those little love handles, but carrying excess weight in the belly area is not a laughing matter health-wise. When teamed up with at least two other health conditions, it creates something called metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is no laughing matter

Man Grocery Shopping Fruit Healthy

We often joke about those little love handles, but carrying excess weight in the belly area is not a laughing matter health-wise. When teamed up with at least two other health conditions, it creates something called metabolic syndrome. Because of the rise of obesity in this country, metabolic syndrome now affects one in three adults, and about 40 percent of adults aged 40 and older have it.

What exactly is metabolic syndrome? It is a condition that has at least three components:

  • High triglycerides  and/or
  • High blood cholesterol and/or
  • High blood pressure and/or
  • Insulin resistance and/or
  • Excess belly weight

Speaking of waistline, what should the measurements be for good health?

  • Men: less than 40 inches
  • Women: less than 35 inches

What are the health risks of having metabolic syndrome?

  • Early coronary disease, usually within 10 years of developing metabolic syndrome
  • Fatty liver
  • Type 2 diabetes

Cardiovascular disease remains the leading killer in this country. Since two-thirds of adults are either overweight or obese many of the risk factors for cardiovascular disease are driven by the excess weight: high blood pressure, high triglycerides and cholesterol, and type 2 diabetes.

The prescription for prevention and treatment of cardiovascular disease is so simple and inexpensive - modest weight loss. Just a 5 percent weight loss improves your health picture, and reduces the chances of developing metabolic syndrome.

Use all tactics to lose weight or to stay lean as you age:

  • Drink calorie-free beverages
  • Watch the portions at mealtimes– usually we need to cut back as we age
  • Plan meals around the plant foods
  • Keep calories spread out evenly through the day
  • Be naturally active in life

Recipes to try:

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.

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