Making healthy lifestyle choices is the best way to prevent metabolic syndrome. One important lifestyle choice is to maintain a healthy weight. Other than weighing yourself on a scale, you can find out if you're at a healthy weight using your waist measurement and body mass index (BMI).
A waist measurement indicates your abdominal fat, which is linked to your risk for heart disease and other diseases. To measure your waist, stand and place a tape measure around your middle, just above your hipbones. Measure your waist just after you breathe out. Make sure the tape is snug but doesn't squeeze the flesh.
A waist measurement of less than 35 inches for women and less than 40 inches for men is the goal for preventing metabolic syndrome; it's also the goal when treating metabolic syndrome.
BMI measures your weight in relation to your height and gives an estimate of your total body fat. A BMI between 25 and 29.9 is considered overweight. A BMI of 30 or more is considered obese. A BMI of less than 25 is the goal for preventing metabolic syndrome; it's also the goal when treating metabolic syndrome.
You can figure out your BMI using the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute's (NHLBI's) online calculator, or your doctor can help you.
To maintain a healthy weight, follow a heart healthy diet and try not to overeat. A healthy diet includes a variety of vegetables and fruits. It also includes whole grains, fat-free or low-fat dairy products, and protein foods, such as lean meats, poultry without skin, seafood, processed soy products, nuts, seeds, beans, and peas.
A healthy diet is low in sodium (salt), added sugars, solid fats, and refined grains. Solid fats are saturated fat and trans fatty acids. Refined grains come from processing whole grains, which results in a loss of nutrients (such as dietary fiber).
For more information about following a healthy diet, go to the NHLBI's "Your Guide to Lowering Your Blood Pressure With DASH" and the U.S. Department of Agriculture's ChooseMyPlate.gov Web site. Both resources provide general information about healthy eating.
Being physically active also can help you maintain a healthy weight. Before starting any kind of exercise program or new physical activity, talk with your doctor about the types and amounts of physical activity that are safe for you.
For more information about physical activity, go to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' "2008 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans," the Health Topics Physical Activity and Your Heart article, and the NHLBI's "Your Guide to Physical Activity and Your Heart."
Make sure to schedule routine doctor visits to keep track of your cholesterol, blood pressure, and blood sugar levels. A blood test called a lipoprotein panel will show your levels of total cholesterol, LDL cholesterol, HDL cholesterol, and triglycerides.
The NHLBI updates Health Topics articles on a biennial cycle based on a thorough review of research findings and new literature. The articles also are updated as needed if important new research is published. The date on each Health Topics article reflects when the content was originally posted or last revised.