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Risk Factors for Metabolic Syndrome

People with metabolic syndrome are at increased risk of:

Metabolic syndrome is believed to be due to a combination of:

  • Genetic factors, which you inherit from your family
  • Environmental factors such as diet and physical activity level

The more risk factors you have for metabolic syndrome, the greater your likelihood of developing it. The risk of having metabolic syndrome also increases with age. If you have a number of risk factors, ask your doctor what you can do to reduce your risk.

Examples of these risk factors include:

  • Ethnicity—Mexican American women, Caucasians, and African Americans have a higher risk.
  • Obesity—You are more likely to develop many of the underlying conditions of metabolic syndrome if you are overweight, especially if that extra weight is around your waist or if your obesity began at a young age.
  • Having disorders or conditions associated with metabolic disorder such as:
    • Type 2 or gestational diabetes
    • High blood pressure
    • Cholesterol problems
    • Coronary artery disease—A heart condition where the arteries that supply blood to the heart narrow, increasing the chances of a heart attack.
    • Polycystic ovary syndrome—A hormonal disorder that occurs when a woman produces an excess of male hormones.
  • Genetics
  • Physical inactivity
  • Poor diet—Eating a diet high in calories, sugar, saturated fats, and starchy foods and eating a diet low in dietary fiber increases your risk.
  • Unhealthy habits, such as smoking
  • Certain medications, such as atypical antipsychotics

Revision Information

  • About metabolic syndrome. American Heart Association website. Available at: Updated August 16, 2012. Accessed May 10, 2013.

  • Deen D. Metabolic Syndrome: time for action. Am Fam Physician. 2004;69(12):2875-2882.

  • Ford ES, Giles WH, Dietz WH, et al. Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome among US adults: findings from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. JAMA. 2002;287(3):356-359.

  • Gami AS, Witt BJ, Howard DE, et al. Metabolic syndrome and risk of incident cardiovascular events and death: a systematic review and meta-analysis of longitudinal studies. J Am Coll Cardiol. 2007;49(4):403-414.

  • Grundy SM. Metabolic syndrome: a multiplex cardiovascular risk factor. J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2007;92(2):399-404.

  • Grundy SM, Cleeman JI, Daniels SR, et al. Diagnosis and management of the metabolic syndrome. Circulation. 2005;112(17):2735-2752.

  • Metabolic syndrome in adults. EBSCO DynaMed Plus website. Available at: Updated March 11, 2016. Accessed September 23, 2016.

  • Weiss R. Dziura J, Burgert Ts, et al. Obesity and the metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. N Engl J Med. 2004;350(23):2362-2374.

  • Who is at risk for metabolic syndrome? National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute website. Available at: Updated November 6, 2015. Accessed June 7, 2016.

  • 1/2/2014 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Koyama S, Ichikawa G, Kojima M, Shimura N, Sairenchi T, Arisaka O. Adiposity rebound and the development of metabolic syndrome. Pediatrics. 2014;133(1):e114-e119..

  • 1/22/2015 DynaMed Plus Systematic Literature Surveillance Xu Y, Shen S, Sun L, Yang H, Jin B, Cao X. Metabolic syndrome risk after gestational diabetes: a systematic review and meta-analysis. PLoS One. 2014;9(1):e87863.