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40 percent of Saudis suffer from metabolic syndrome
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 29 - 10 - 2013


Saudi Gazette report
DAMMAM — About 40 percent of Saudis suffer from metabolic syndrome, according to a medical expert.
Dr. Muhammad Al-Shaif, consultant internist and hematologist, said this syndrome is fast becoming a new epidemic worldwide.
Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical conditions that increase sufferers' risk of developing cardiovascular disease, strokes and diabetes when they occur together.
Al-Shaif's warning was based on a Saudi study carried out on about 20,000 heart patients throughout the Kingdom.
The study was undertaken by Saudi expert Professor Mansour Al-Nuzha while he was the president of the Saudi Heart Association.
It was revealed in the study that nearly 40 percent of people in the Kingdom are affected by metabolic syndrome. Al-Nuzha also noted between 25 and 35 percent suffer from this disorder globally.
Al-Shaif said metabolic syndrome is not a disease but a health disorder due to excessive consumption of calories, eventually leading to accumulated body fat and resulting in an elevated waist circumference.
This disorder leads to several health problems and diseases, including an increased risk of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. He said 35 to 40 percent of Saudis are obese, of which 25 to 30 percent suffer from diabetes.
According to Al-Shaif, the best way to prevent this syndrome is to maintain a balanced weight and follow a healthy diet. For this, increased physical activity is essential.
One of the major effects of metabolic syndrome is elevated waist circumference. It can be diagnosed when the waist circumference is greater than 40 inches (102 cm) in men and greater than 35 inches (88 cm) in women.
He said that a large waist is more dangerous than the accumulation of fat in the buttocks, noting that the presence of stomach fat is not limited to under the skin, but can accumulate above the internal organs such as the liver and intestines.
Al-Shaif said a number of measures could be taken to prevent the development of metabolic syndrome.
These include leading a healthy lifestyle, losing weight, increased physical activity and a restricted calorie intake.
He said: “Shedding weight can be achieved through following a healthy and reduced-calorie diet that includes a small percentage of fat and cholesterol, such as the Mediterranean diet.
“This diet involves frequent consumption of fruit and vegetables, nuts and grains, legumes and olive oil.”
He said this diet also helps in shedding excess weight and lowering blood pressure and fat as well as improving blood resistance to insulin.
According to the specialist, the best way to prevent metabolic syndrome is following a diet based on eating more fruit and vegetables, low-fat dairy products, in addition to less than 2.4 grams (half a tablespoon) of salt per day, and consume food with less than 25 percent of fat.
Al-Shaif said physical exercise is the second preventive step against metabolic syndrome.
He noted that most experts recommend at least 30 minutes a day of physical exercise, such as walking. Reducing cholesterol levels and blood pressure is also essential.


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