The metabolic syndrome is a constellation of interrelated metabolic risk factors that appear to directly promote the development of diabetes and cardiovascular disease. However, in 2005, the American Diabetes Association and the European Association for the Study of Diabetes jointly stated that no existing definition of the metabolic syndrome meets the criteria of a syndrome, and there have been endless debates on the pros and cons of using the concept of this syndrome. The controversy may stem from confusion between the syndrome and obesity. Obesity is an epidemic, essentially contagious disease caused by an environment of excess nutritional energy and reinforced by deeply rooted social norms. The epidemic of obesity should be prevented or controlled by social and political means, similar to the approaches now being taken to combat global warming. The diagnosis of metabolic syndrome is useless for this public purpose. The purpose of establishing criteria for diagnosing metabolic syndrome is to find individuals who are at increased risk of diabetes and cardiovascular disease and who require specific therapy including diet and exercise. The syndrome may be an adipose tissue disease different from obesity; in that case, it would be characterized by inflammation clinically detected through systemic inflammatory markers such as high-sensitivity C-reactive protein and insulin resistance reflecting histological changes in adipose tissue. However, many problems in defining the optimal diagnostic criteria remain unresolved.