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.