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One-Third of Americans Have Insulin Syndrome

Health: Those with the condition face a high risk of diabetes and heart disease, experts say. But diet and exercise usually can correct the problem.

August 28, 2002|From Reuters

WASHINGTON — One in three Americans has a condition called insulin resistance syndrome, putting them at high risk of diabetes and heart disease, a panel of doctors said Tuesday.

But diet and exercise can take care of the condition in many if not most cases, and a few simple tests can tell doctors and patients who faces the most risk, the experts said.

Insulin resistance syndrome, also known as metabolic syndrome or syndrome X, refers to people whose bodies do not manage insulin well.

More people are developing the condition as the population eats more and exercises less.

If not dealt with, it can develop into diabetes as well as heart disease, nonalcoholic fatty liver or perhaps colon or ovarian cancer. It affects a growing number of adults and children.

On Tuesday a committee of experts from four top medical organizations--the American College of Endocrinology, American Assn. of Clinical Endocrinologists, American Medical Assn. and the American College of Physicians-American Society of Internal Medicine--issued official guidance about how to diagnose the condition.

"As the prevalence of insulin resistance syndrome has skyrocketed 61% in the last decade, it is crucial that medical professionals have consistent and definitive criteria to assess this serious condition," Dr. Daniel Einhorn of the Scripps Whittier Institute for Diabetes in La Jolla, who co-chaired the panel, told a news conference.

Einhorn said pediatricians are complaining that 7-to 10-year-old children were developing metabolic syndrome, Type 2 diabetes--once only seen in adults--and obesity. "We never saw this before," Einhorn said. "Pediatricians are having to learn about adult medications."

No single test can show who has insulin resistance syndrome, the committee concluded, but measurements of weight, blood pressure, cholesterol and glucose tolerance can.

One quick check that people can make at home is waist circumference, the experts said--men with 40-inch waists and women with 35-inch waists have a higher risk.

Details are available on the Internet at

"It is not any one thing that's the culprit," Einhorn said. "It's a combination of genetics and the diseases of modern living--obesity and sedentary living."

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