Impact of weight loss on the metabolic syndrome

Diabetes Obes Metab. 2002 Nov;4(6):407-14. doi: 10.1046/j.1463-1326.2002.00236.x.


Aim: Individuals with the metabolic syndrome (MS), a clustering of risk factors [triglycerides, glucose, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, blood pressure (BP), abdominal obesity] defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), are at high risk for coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus, and may benefit from aggressive lifestyle modification.

Methods: We reviewed 1 year of consecutive patients' charts to determine the prevalence of the MS in obese individuals enrolled in a medically supervised rapid weight loss programme, the correlation of weight change with the components of the MS, and response to diet-induced weight loss.

Results: Out of 185 individuals, 125 (68%) met the NCEP definition of the MS. A moderate decrease in weight (6.5%) induced by a very low calorie diet (VLCD) resulted in substantial reductions of systolic (11.1 mmHg) and diastolic (5.8 mmHg) blood pressure (BP), glucose (17 mg/dl), triglycerides (94 mg/dl) and total cholesterol (37 mg/dl) at 4 weeks (all p < 0.001). These improvements were sustained at the end of active weight loss (average 16.7 weeks; total weight loss 15.1%), with further significant reductions in BP and triglycerides. Weight loss was related to the changes in each criterion of the metabolic syndrome.

Conclusions: The MS is prevalent in two-thirds of obese individuals enrolling in a structured weight loss programme. Moderate weight loss with a VLCD markedly improved all aspects of the MS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cholesterol, HDL / blood
  • Cholesterol, LDL / blood
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / blood
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / prevention & control*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / blood
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / physiopathology
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Cholesterol, HDL
  • Cholesterol, LDL