HOME > Doctor’s Health Advice > What causes metabolic syndrome?

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  • Yuzo Endo, M.D., Ph.D.
  • Masahito Hitosugi, M.D., Ph.D.
  • John E. Lewis, Ph.D.

Doctor’s Health Advice

Doctor’s Health Advice

Forensic doctor’s advice on metabolic syndrome


What causes metabolic syndrome?


In the previous essay, I talked about the definition of metabolic syndrome. Lifestyle-related illnesses, such as obesity, hyperlipidemia, diabetes, and hypertension are closely interrelated.

An analysis of annual medical examinations for workers shows that a person with the presence of three or more of the following symptoms is about thirty times more likely to develop coronary artery diseases than a person without these symptoms: obesity, hyperlipidemia, hypertension, or diabetes.

What are the causes of metabolic syndrome? It is mostly due to insufficient physical activity and overnutrition which accelerates visceral fat accumulation.

Typical lifestyle of a metabolic syndrome patient

A report on the lifestyle of metabolic syndrome patients shows a similarity in their eating habits. Among both men and women, they have been shown to eat to the extent that they are satisfied. It was also common for men to have between-meal snacks, and for women to frequently use sugar in their cooking. Eating large amounts of food, having between-meal snacks, and large sugar intake result in overall high calorie intake.

Other commonalities were in their lifestyles. Many of the men were smokers and/or frequently used a vehicle as a means of transportation. These factors show that decreasing physical activity, lack of exercise and smoking are closely related to each other and cause metabolic syndrome.

The likelihood of developing metabolic syndrome increases in proportion to the amount a person smokes. Statistics show that a person who smokes 31 or more cigarettes per day is 1.6 times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than one who doesn’t smoke at all.

Prevention of metabolic syndrome

Calorie intake should be reduced by avoiding fatty food and between-meal snacks. Fatty food is known to promote arteriosclerosis and inhibit blood vessel activity (vasoconstriction and angiectasia). A survey conducted on Japanese-Brazilians showed that a person who frequently eats lean meat is 5.4 times more likely to develop metabolic syndrome than a person who rarely eats it.

It is also important to give up smoking immediately. Movements have been growing to prohibit smoking in public areas and prevent second-hand smoke exposure. A report suggests that cardiac diseases have been significantly reduced in regions where smoking was prohibited. It should be acknowledged that giving up smoking can protect not only the health of the actual smoker, but also the health of those surrounding him.


Masahito Hitosugi, M.D., Ph.D

Masahito Hitosugi, M.D., Ph.D.
Professor, Department of Legal Medicine
Shiga University of Medical Science

Graduate School of Medicine, Jikei University, Tokyo, Japan, M.D., Ph.D. (Dr. of Medical Science), 2000.

Kawasaki Municipal Hospital (Internal Medicine), Kanagawa, Japan, 1994-1996.

License and Certification:
License of Medical Doctor (No. 367818), Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 1994.
Authorized Dr. of Medical Autopsy (No. 7189), Japan Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, 1999.
Authorized Dr. of Forensic Medicine (No. 100), Japanese Society of Legal Medicine, 2002.
The 1st grade of the Examination of Proficiency in English for Medical Purposes (No. 3), The Japan Society for Medical English Education, 2008.

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