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Metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is the name for a group of health problems that put you at risk of type 2 diabetes or conditions that affect your heart or blood vessels. It's different from metabolic disorders which are rare genetic conditions.

Symptoms of metabolic syndrome

You may not have any symptoms of metabolic syndrome.

You usually find out you have it after a blood test or check-up.

Check if you're at risk of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome is very common. It's not known what causes it.

It is linked to insulin resistance. This is when your body does not respond to the hormone insulin properly. It may also be linked to having too much fat around your tummy.

You are more likely to get metabolic syndrome if you:

  • are living with obesity
  • eat a high-saturated-fat diet
  • do not exercise much
  • have a Hispanic or South Asian background
  • smoke
  • drink a lot of alcohol

Your risk of getting metabolic syndrome also increases as you get older.

Non-urgent advice: See a GP if:

  • you think you are at risk of metabolic syndrome

Tests for metabolic syndrome

If your GP or hospital specialist thinks you have metabolic syndrome, they will:

  • ask about medical conditions you or family members have
  • check your body mass index (BMI) and waist measurement
  • check your blood pressure
  • ask about any symptoms you have

They will usually arrange some blood tests to check your blood glucose and the fats in your blood, such as cholesterol. They may tell you not to eat or drink anything apart from water for up to 12 hours before the test.

Treatments for metabolic syndrome

Treatment for metabolic syndrome usually involves making changes to your lifestyle.

You may also be offered medicines to help you:

  • lose weight
  • improve your insulin resistance and blood glucose levels
  • improve your cholesterol
  • lower your blood pressure

How to prevent metabolic syndrome

The best way to prevent metabolic syndrome, to treat it and prevent complications is through a healthy lifestyle.


  • try to lose weight if you're overweight

  • eat less saturated fat and meat and dairy products and have more fruit, vegetables and whole grains

  • do at least 150 minutes of moderate to intense exercise a week, spread over at least 4 or 5 days

  • try to cut down or quit smoking if you smoke


  • do not sit for long periods of time

Complications of metabolic syndrome

Metabolic syndrome increases your chances of having cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes.

It may also increase your chances of getting:

It can sometimes affect fertility.

Page last reviewed: 16 November 2023
Next review due: 16 November 2026