Understanding Metabolic Syndrome: The Risk of Serious Diseases


Central obesity, excessive fat accumulation around the waist, is a warning sign of metabolic syndrome that leads to a higher risk of various chronic diseases. Obese individuals have a 25% chance of developing this syndrome. Therefore, it is crucial to understand its causes, regularly monitor your health, and be aware of the risks to prevent obesity and reduce the likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome.

Dr. Kittiphong Sukhum, our internal medicine physician at Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin, explains that metabolic syndrome occurs when the body’s tissues fail to use sugar and fat effectively or when the body’s digestion is abnormal, resulting in various changes and accumulating effects on the body that can lead to chronic illnesses. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, and can cause problems with blood vessels and the heart, leading to heart attacks and strokes. In cases of morbid obesity, excessive fat accumulation can also affect breathing, causing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), and increasing the risk of severe illness and mortality more than the general population.

Causes of Metabolic Syndrome

The main cause of metabolic syndrome is obesity, frequently found in patients who have excessive fat accumulation in their abdominal area, also known as central obesity. These fats can trigger inflammation, hormonal imbalances, and decreased insulin effectiveness, also called insulin resistance. It can be caused by both genetic and environmental factors, such as aging and certain medications. People with central obesity are more likely to develop insulin resistance than those with excess fat in other parts of their bodies.

Diagnosis and Examination

The diagnosis of central obesity can be made by comparing waist circumference (at the level of the navel) to height divided by 2. If the waist circumference is greater than this value, it indicates central obesity. For example, if the height is 160 centimeters and the waist circumference is 80.5 centimeters, then this person is considered to have central obesity. In addition to measuring waist circumference, doctors evaluate the presence of risk factors for metabolic syndrome. If two or more of the following are present, it may indicate the presence of metabolic syndrome:

  1. Fasting blood sugar level greater than 100 mg/dL or diagnosed with diabetes
  2. Diagnosed with high blood pressure
  3. Presence of abnormal blood lipid levels, including high triglycerides or cholesterol.

Treatment for Metabolic Syndrome

The key to treating metabolic syndrome is to address both obesity and insulin resistance, as well as control risk factors for heart and blood vessel diseases. This can be achieved through controlling the quantity and quality of food intake, emphasizing a protein-based diet, and engaging in regular exercise to aid in weight loss and improve control of diabetes, blood pressure, and blood lipid levels.

“Metabolic syndrome does not only occur in people who are obese. Individuals with diabetes, high blood sugar, high blood pressure, and high blood lipid levels are also at increased risk of developing this syndrome. However, people with excess abdominal fat have a higher risk. Regular health checkups are important for everyone to maintain good health and prevent health problems. For patients with metabolic syndrome, making changes to their eating habits, exercising regularly, monitoring their health, and seeking medical advice are all essential steps to receive appropriate treatment, including weight management and lipid control that are suitable for their health and environmental conditions.” Dr. Kittiphong concludes.


Dr. Kittiphong Sukhum

Internal Medicine Physician

Out-Patient Department, Bangkok Hospital Hua Hin

Tel. 032-616-800  |  Email: huahin@bangkokhospital.com