Elizabeth S. Reames | 7/2/2005 1:25:11 AM
At least 47 million Americans—or about one in five—has a condition called metabolic syndrome. These people are at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and are at higher risk of dying from cardiovascular disease and other causes, according to LSU AgCenter nutritionist Dr. Beth Reames.
Metabolic syndrome occurs when three or more of the following conditions are present: abdominal obesity, high triglyceride levels, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol levels, high blood pressure and high fasting glucose levels.
Specifically, look for the following symptoms, says Reames.
• A waist measurement of 35 inches or more for women, or 40 or more for men. (Measure where your waist is narrowest.)
• Fasting blood sugar of at least 110.
• Triglycerides of 150 or more.
• HDL (good) cholesterol of less than 50 for women, or less than 40 for men.
• Blood pressure of 130/85 or higher.
The syndrome strikes one in four people over 60 years of age. A report from a recent study in the Archives of Internal Medicine found that nearly half of heart attack patients were at higher risk of developing heart failure because they also met criteria for metabolic syndrome.
"Achieving and maintaining a health weight will help prevent metabolic syndrome," Reames says, adding that most experts agree that reducing excessive body weight by as little as 5 percent to10 percent and increasing physical activity are beneficial.
"Small changes can lead to big improvements," the nutritionist says, explaining, "A 5 percent weight loss would be 10 pounds for a 200-pound person and 10 percent weight loss would be 20 pounds."
Eating too many calories and not getting enough physical activity contribute to obesity. Americans are eating more food prepared away from home now than ever before. Eating out makes it easier to eat more calories with less portion control. Studies show that when we are served more, we tend to eat more.
"Learn to balance the food you eat with physical activity," the nutritionist advises. Eat vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, poultry, fish and beans and low-fat dairy products, as recommended by the Food Guide Pyramid.
"In today’s world with food on every corner, people tend to have too many ‘once in a while’ foods," Reames says. Smaller portions, less often, along with more exercise will help you achieve a healthy lifestyle.
The new Dietary Guidelines recommend that Americans engage in 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity activity on most days of the week to help manage body weight and prevent gradual weight gain. To sustain weight loss in adulthood, the guidelines recommend at least 60 to 90 minutes of daily moderate-intensity physical activity.
For additional information about the Dietary Guidelines and the Food Guide Pyramid, contact the parish LSU AgCenter Extension agent. For information on related nutrition, family and consumer topics, click on the Family and Home link at the LSU AgCenter Web site, www.lsuagcenter.com