Nutrition, insulin resistance and dysfunctional adipose tissue determine the different components of metabolic syndrome

World J Diabetes. 2016 Nov 15;7(19):483-514. doi: 10.4239/wjd.v7.i19.483.


Obesity is an excessive accumulation of body fat that may be harmful to health. Today, obesity is a major public health problem, affecting in greater or lesser proportion all demographic groups. Obesity is estimated by body mass index (BMI) in a clinical setting, but BMI reports neither body composition nor the location of excess body fat. Deaths from cardiovascular diseases, cancer and diabetes accounted for approximately 65% of all deaths, and adiposity and mainly abdominal adiposity are associated with all these disorders. Adipose tissue could expand to inflexibility levels. Then, adiposity is associated with a state of low-grade chronic inflammation, with increased tumor necrosis factor-α and interleukin-6 release, which interfere with adipose cell differentiation, and the action pattern of adiponectin and leptin until the adipose tissue begins to be dysfunctional. In this state the subject presents insulin resistance and hyperinsulinemia, probably the first step of a dysfunctional metabolic system. Subsequent to central obesity, insulin resistance, hyperglycemia, hypertriglyceridemia, hypoalphalipoproteinemia, hypertension and fatty liver are grouped in the so-called metabolic syndrome (MetS). In subjects with MetS an energy balance is critical to maintain a healthy body weight, mainly limiting the intake of high energy density foods (fat). However, high-carbohydrate rich (CHO) diets increase postprandial peaks of insulin and glucose. Triglyceride-rich lipoproteins are also increased, which interferes with reverse cholesterol transport lowering high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. In addition, CHO-rich diets could move fat from peripheral to central deposits and reduce adiponectin activity in peripheral adipose tissue. All these are improved with monounsaturated fatty acid-rich diets. Lastly, increased portions of ω-3 and ω-6 fatty acids also decrease triglyceride levels, and complement the healthy diet that is recommended in patients with MetS.

Keywords: Adipokines; Insulin resistance; Lipotoxicity and nutrition; Metabolic syndrome; Metabolism; Obesity.

Publication types

  • Review