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Inappropriate nutrition, increased calorie intake, and lack of exercise generally lead to obesity and the metabolic syndrome, which are responsible for several chronic diseases that affect every aspect of a person’s life. In addition to prevention and medical treatment, education is the single most important tool for their management. Education is also of major importance in raising public health awareness since it can expectantly help control the global epidemic of obesity, diabetes, and other disease states associated with the metabolic syndrome.
Positive energy balance, as reflected by increasing BMI, is not a recent phenomenon. BMI has been increasing for many decades, but until the mid or late 1970s, it was rather associated with improved health and increased longevity. In the past few decades, however, the risk-to-benefit ratio has been shifting in such a way that the continued increase in body fatness is increasingly being recognized as underlying several chronic disease states. This phenomenon is slowing or even reversing gains made in terms of life expectancy in the past.
The term Metabolic Syndrome refers to a group of clinical findings including obesity, hypertension, hyperlipidemia, and insulin resistance, with increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. It has also been linked with chronic kidney disease, liver disease with steatosis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis, and cognitive decline and dementia.
Despite recent controversy regarding the concept of a metabolic syndrome, the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) had developed a new worldwide definition building upon the World Health Organization (WHO) and ATP III definitions. On the basis of the IDF definition, almost 40% of USA adults are classified as having the metabolic syndrome. Although environmental factors such as smoking, low economic status, high intake of carbohydrates, no alcohol consumption, and physical inactivity can play a role in the development of the metabolic syndrome, a series of evidence indicates that there is also a genetic component involved. Thus, the metabolic syndrome can be perceived as a widely spread warning state of human health. It is a sign that for many decades diet and lifestyle have been exerting pressure on the organism and the long period (decades) of compensation might lead to disease.
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