Purpose of review: The metabolic syndrome, a cluster of potent risk factors for atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes mellitus in adults, is composed of insulin resistance, obesity, hypertension and hyperlipidemia. Of significant impact in the adult population, atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease and death are rarely seen in the young, but the pathologic processes and risk factors associated with its development have been shown to begin during childhood. The current review summarizes the work published during the past year in the following areas: childhood obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidemia, hypertension and type 2 diabetes mellitus.
Recent findings: Recent studies have revealed the presence of components of the metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents. Obesity has a central role in the syndrome. There is an increasing amount of data to show that being overweight during childhood and adolescence is significantly associated with insulin resistance, abnormal lipids, and elevated blood pressure in young adulthood. Weight loss in these situations results in a decrease in insulin concentration and an increase in insulin sensitivity toward normalcy. With cardiovascular disease, obesity, and type 2 diabetes reaching epidemic proportions, it is of great importance to understand and control the risk factors at an early age.
Summary: The information obtained during the past year has improved our understanding of the pathogenesis, diagnosis and treatment of components of the metabolic syndrome in children, and potentially could improve the risk profiles for cardiovascular disease as children make the transition toward adolescence and young adulthood.