What causes the metabolic syndrome?
No single cause of metabolic syndrome has been identified, and it is possible that there are different causes in different people. The underlying factors that contribute to developing metabolic syndrome are being overweight or obese—especially around the waist—not getting enough exercise, and genetic factors that make you susceptible.
What is the connection between blood sugar and the metabolic syndrome?
In many people, the metabolic syndrome seems to be related to a disorder called insulin resistance. Insulin is a hormone released by the pancreas that helps sugar ( glucose) enter your body's cells. Insulin resistance is when your body cannot use insulin efficiently, causing an increased amount of sugar in your blood. This high blood sugar can lead to type 2 diabetes.
Metabolic syndrome usually happens when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. Exactly how this happens is not known, and some people with the metabolic syndrome do not have insulin resistance. Insulin resistance increases the levels of cholesterol and triglycerides in your blood, causing damage to your arteries, and may interfere with your kidneys' ability to process salt, raising your blood pressure.
Who is at risk for insulin resistance?
Some people are more likely than others to develop insulin resistance. Often this is due to genetic factors, such as a family history of diabetes. Women with a history of polycystic ovary syndrome (when the body produces too many male hormones) are more likely to develop insulin resistance, as are women who have had diabetes during pregnancy ( gestational diabetes). In people with a predisposition to insulin resistance, being overweight and not getting enough exercise may trigger the metabolic syndrome.