Metabolic Syndrome Triggered by Overeating

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that may increase the risk in people of developing diabetes, fatty liver and heart disease. It can affect a large number of people and its occurrence may likely increase as a person ages. And there has been studies recently suggesting that metabolic syndrome may be triggered by overeating.

Although obese people are more likely seen to develop metabolic syndrome, obesity itself is an early symptom and in fact, not the cause of the said disorder. According to an article on the HealthDay website, a study published on the online journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences was among the first to propose that weight gain is an early symptom and not a direct cause of metabolic syndrome.

In the said study, Dr. Roger Unger, senior study author and professor of internal medicine, compared normal mice models with colleagues to mice that were genetically altered to prevent fat cells in mice from expanding. Both mice models were then overfed. The result of the experiment is that the normal mice model got fat but didn’t develop the signs that were associated with metabolic syndrome until after about seven weeks of being overfed. The genetically altered mice model also showed the same outcome but on a different level.

Since the genetically altered mice have non-expanding fat cells, they stayed slim. But after a few weeks, the mice started to become seriously ill within a few weeks. The genetically altered mice model displayed evidence of severe heart problems as well as significant increases in their blood sugar levels just eight weeks before the first signs of heart problems developed in the normal mice model.

The genetically modified mice model also showed significant damage to heart cells as well as to the insulin secreting cells in the pancreas. The genetically altered mice also got sick quicker because extra calories consumed found their way into cell tissues instead of being stored in the fat cells. Researchers believe that the study may show obesity may not be the triggering factor that will lead to the development of metabolic syndrome.

The exact cause of metabolic syndrome is still unknown, but the study has shown that obesity itself may not be the cause of the said condition. "Most people today think that obesity itself causes metabolic syndrome," Dr. Unger said in a prepared statement. "We’re ingrained to think obesity is the cause of all health problems, when, in fact, it is the spillover of fat into organs other than fat cells that damages these organs, such as the heart and the liver. Depositing fatty molecules in fat cells where they belong actually delays that harmful spillover."