The term "metabolic syndrome" refers to the clustering of a number of cardiovascular risk factors (obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and hyperglycaemia) believed to be related to insulin resistance. The prevalence of each of these diseases as well as the metabolic syndrome is increasing world wide. Obesity, hypertension, dyslipidemia and diabetes are no longer diseases of the wealthy. By 2025, three out of four people with diabetes will be living in third world countries, and similar trends are likely for the other components of the syndrome. Preventive action is urgently needed, and studies in China and India have proven to be effective.