Metabolic Syndrome Severity Confers Greater Cardiovascular Risk

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Mark D. DeBoer, MD Associate Professor of Pediatrics Division of Pediatric Endocrinology University of Virginia Charlottesville, VA 22908

Dr. DeBoer

Mark D. DeBoer, MD
Associate Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Pediatric Endocrinology
University of Virginia
Charlottesville, VA 22908

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Worldwide there remains a need for accurate prediction of cardiovascular disease. One such predictor is the metabolic syndrome, a cluster of individual risk factors including central obesity, high blood pressure, high triglycerides, low HDL cholesterol, and high fasting glucose. Metabolic Syndrome is usually diagnosed using set criteria, where a person is diagnosed if he or she has abnormalities in at least 3 of the individual components. Using these criteria, someone with MetS (compared to without MetS) has a >50% greater chance of developing cardiovascular disease over the ensuing 10 years. The problem is that prior studies showed that having MetS did not increase risk above that seen for having the abnormalities in the individual risk factors themselves.

Our study used a continuous MetS severity score that we derived previously and assessed this score as a predictor of future cardiovascular disease in two large cohorts. We found that even when analyzed with abnormalities in the individual Metabolic Syndrome components, higher levels of the MetS severity score conferred higher risk for cardiovascular disease. This suggests the potential for following this score in individuals over time to identify those at higher risk for future cardiovascular disease.

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One Fatty Meal Results In Metabolic Disturbances

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Prof. Dr. Michael Roden Director, German Diabetes Center (DDZ) Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf Chair/Professor, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf Director, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology University Hospital Düsseldorf Düsseldorf, Germany

Prof. Michael Roden

Prof. Dr. Michael Roden
Director, German Diabetes Center (DDZ)
Leibniz Center for Diabetes Research
at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Chair/Professor, Endocrinology and Metabolic Diseases
Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf
Director, Department of Endocrinology and Diabetology
University Hospital Düsseldorf
Düsseldorf, Germany

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: The prevalence of obesity, type 2 diabetes and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) continue to increase at an alarming rate. Their occurrence has been associated with intake of saturated fats, for example that of palm oil. This study aimed to shed light on how dietary fat initiates metabolic changes which lead to the aforementioned diseases. To this end we provided 14 young healthy volunteers an oral dose of palm oil or placebo randomly, in a crossover manner, with an 8-week washout period between each intervention.

One acute dose of palm oil leads to insulin resistance in the main insulin sensitive tissues of the body: the liver, skeletal muscle and adipose tissue. In the liver, it also results in increased accumulation of triglycerides, increased production of glucose from lipid and amino acid precursors (rather than from glycogen), and increased energy metabolism, as denoted by increased hepatic adenosine triphosphate (ATP) content. Moreover, a similar experiment in mice revealed that one dose of palm oil differentially regulates genes and pathways which are known or suspected regulators of NAFLD, such as lipopolysaccharide (LPS), members of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR) family and nuclear factor kappa-light-chain-enhancer of activated B-cells.

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Living at a Geographically Higher Elevation Is Associated with Lower Risk of Metabolic Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
“The Mountains of Spain” by Nan Palmero is licensed under CC BY 2.0
Pedro González Muniesa 
Director of International Relations of Human Nutrition and Dietetics
Universidad de Navarra
Nutrition Research Center / Dpt. Nutrition, Food Science and Physiology
School of Pharmacy / University of Navarra 

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Several other studies have reported lower incidence rates of conditions linked to MetS such as obesity (Díaz-Gutiérrez et al.,2016; Voss et al., 2013; Woolcott et al., 2014), heart disease (Ezzati et al., 2012; Faeh et al., 2016), hypertension (Norboo et al., 2015) or type 2 diabetes (Woolcott et al., 2014) on subjects living at high altitudes.

To our knowledge this is the first study that has found a protective effect on living at a higher altitude against metabolic syndrome, and it is one of the very few that has found this effect at a median altitude of less than 600 meters.

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Weight Shaming Can Cause Physical As Well As Mental Harm

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Rebecca L. Pearl PhD
Department of Psychiatry, Center for Weight and Eating Disorders
Perelman School of Medicine
University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? 

Response: Weight bias is a pervasive form of prejudice that leads to weight-based discrimination, bullying, and the overall stigmatization of obesity. Some individuals with obesity may internalize weight bias by applying negative weight stereotypes to themselves and “self-stigmatizing.” Exposure to weight bias and stigma increases risk for poor obesity-related health (in part by increasing physiological stress), but little is known about the relationship between weight bias internalization and risk for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases.

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Aspartame May Promote Obesity By Changing Gut Enzyme

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Richard Hodin, MD Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Surgery Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School Chief of Academic Affairs, Department of Surgery, Massachusetts General Hospital Boston, Mass 02114

Dr. Richard Hodin

Richard Hodin, MD
Gastrointestinal and Endocrine Surgery
Professor of Surgery, Harvard Medical School
Chief of Academic Affairs, Department of Surgery,
Massachusetts General Hospital
Boston, Mass 02114

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Response: Sugar substitutes like Aspartame are widely used and supposed to make people lose weight and have less diabetes, heart disease, etc. However, a number of studies indicate that theses substitutes don’t work very well. The reasons for them not working have not been clear. Our study found that the most common sugar substitute (aspartame) blocks an enzyme in our gut called Intestinal Alkaline Phosphatase (IAP). By blocking IAP, Aspartame prevents the beneficial effects of IAP which normally works to prevent obesity, diabetes, and other aspects of the metabolic syndrome.

So, we now have an explanation for why Aspartame may make obesity and the metabolic syndrome worse, rather than better.

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Larger Wrist Size May Suggest Unhealthy Metabolic Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Ilaria Cavallari, MD
Department of Cardiovascular Sciences
University Campus Bio-Medico
Roma, Italy

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Obesity is a well-known risk factor for metabolic and cardiovascular disease (CVD). However, more than the amount of adipose tissue, its function plays important roles in the development of CVD. Distribution of adiposity, evaluated by measuring body circumferences, is related to adipose dysfunction. Wrist circumference has been recently associated with insulin-resistance and diabetes. Therefore, body circumferences, wrist circumference in particular, are candidate easy and fast markers of cardiovascular risk, beyond the classical body mass index (BMI).

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Prehypertension in Pregnancy Linked to Postpartum Metabolic Syndrome

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Jian-Min Niu Department of Obstetrics Guangdong Women and Children Hospita Guangzhou , China

Dr. Jian Min Niu

Dr. Jian-Min Niu
Department of Obstetrics
Guangdong Women and Children Hospita
Guangzhou , China

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?

Response: Physiological alteration leads to the question of whether the criteria for the diagnosis of gestational hypertension are suitable because the current criteria (systolic BP [SBP] ≥140 mm Hg and diastolic BP [DBP] ≥90 mm Hg) are derived from the non-pregnant population. The optimal blood pressure levels in pregnant women remain an open question. Recent studies have demonstrated associations between prehypertension before pregnancy and hypertensive disorders during pregnancy and gestational diabetes mellitus. To our knowledge, the association between prehypertension during pregnancy and postpartum cardiovascular risk has not been addressed.

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High Fructose Diet During Pregnancy Predisposes Children to Obesity

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Antonio Saad, MD Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

Dr. Antonio Saad

Antonio Saad, MD
Fellow in Maternal Fetal Medicine & Critical Care Medicine
University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston

MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Saad: Recently the WHO announced an alarming news, the prevalence of diabetes has increased four fold in the past quarter-century. The major factors attributed for this increase included excessive weight, and obesity. In the US alone, two thirds of people are either overweight or obese. There are shocking numbers that should alert physicians, patients and government officials for awareness and interventions that we can alter the path away from this drastic epidemic.

In light of recent events, our group strongly believes that poor diet during pregnancy predisposes offspring in adult life to develop obesity and diabetes through fetal programming. High fructose introduction into our food chain has coincided with the obesity and diabetes epidemics. Hence, we designed an animal study where we fed pregnant mice with either regular diet or high fructose diet until delivery. Then we looked at the offspring, at 12 months of age. We looked at  their blood pressure, glucose tolerance tests, insulin resistance,  and weights. We also tested for serum marker of metabolic dysfunction and used computed tomography imaging to assess for liver fat infiltration and percent visceral adipose tissue. To our surprise, these offspring (mothers were fed high fructose diet) developed several features of metabolic syndrome.  Female offspring’s cardiovascular and metabolic function at one year of age (adulthood) had increased weight, blood pressure, visceral adiposity, liver fat infiltrates and  insulin resistance with impaired glucose tolerance).  The  male counterparts were limited to high blood pressure  and glucose intolerance. Keeping in mind that the amount of fructose given to these animals were equivalent to daily soda cans consumption in humans.

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Multiple Pregnancies May Raise Metabolic Syndrome Risk in Latina Women

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:

Catherine J. Vladutiu, PhD, MPH Research Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology Chapel Hill, NC

Dr. Catherine Vladutiu

Catherine J. Vladutiu, PhD, MPH
Research Assistant Professor, Department of Obstetrics & Gynecology
Adjunct Assistant Professor, Department of Epidemiology
Chapel Hill, NC

Medical Research: What is the background for this study?

Dr. Vladutiu: During pregnancy, women experience physiological changes and are at risk of pregnancy-related complications, some of which are associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular health outcomes in later life.  Physiologic adaptations occurring across successive pregnancies may be associated with an even higher risk of adverse cardiovascular outcomes. Previous studies have found an association between higher parity (i.e., number of live births) and the metabolic syndrome (MetS). However, no studies have examined this association in a Hispanic/Latina population. Hispanic women have a higher prevalence of the MetS than non-Hispanic women.  Latinos are also the fastest growing minority population in the U.S. and Hispanic/Latina women report higher fertility and birth rates than their non-Hispanic counterparts.

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Short Term High Fat Snacks Linked To Metabolic Syndrome

Suzan Wopereis, Ph.D. TNO, Microbiology and Systems Biology Group Zeist, The Netherlands

Dr. Wopereis

MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Suzan Wopereis, Ph.D.
TNO, Microbiology and Systems Biology Group
Zeist, The Netherlands

Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?

Dr. Wopereis: For the first time we could demonstrate the very subtle start of negative health effects caused by a high calorie snack diet in healthy men. We already knew about the negative consequences of such diets from so called epidemiologic studies. In such studies, scientists compare large populations (thousands of people) to better understand disease development. For example, by comparing  obese populations to a lean population, scientists could define various steps in the disease development related to obesity, like high cholesterol, onset of inflammation, high blood pressure, high glucose, etc. Yet, the early deviations from health  were difficult to study because human metabolism (the way we digest and metabolize our meals from a biochemical viewpoint)  is very flexible and able to efficiently deal with all kinds of daily stressors, such as a meal or intensive exercise. So, at TNO we decided to exploit  this flexibility by giving our healthy volunteers a ‘challenge test’, in the form of a high-fat milkshake. Next, we studied how multiple aspects of their metabolism react to such a challenge test. We showed that a snack diet for 4 weeks reduced many aspects of  flexibility of our healthy men, thus indicating very early changes in health. Both the high-fat challenge test and the integral study of many different outcomes form a novel approach of what “healthy” really means.

In the study we used two groups of male volunteers. One group of 10 healthy male volunteers and one group of 9 male volunteers with Metabolic Syndrome, who had a combination of 2 or more risk factors that raises your risk for heart disease and other health problems (unhealthy cholesterol levels, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, high blood lipids, and abdominal fat). In other words, subjects with Metabolic Syndrome have a suboptimal health condition. Both groups received a high-fat milk-shake, and before and up to 8 hours after consumption of this metabolic challenge-test, blood samples were taken. In these blood samples, 61 different biomarkers were measured, such as cholesterol and blood sugar. These 61 biomarkers were used for a thorough health assessment of these 2 groups in response to the challenge test. We noted that biochemical processes related to sugar metabolism, fat metabolism and inflammation function abnormal in subjects with Metabolic Syndrome. The next step was to provide the 10 healthy male volunteers with a snack diet for 4 weeks. On top of their normal diet they had to consume an additional 1300 kcal per day, in the form of sweets and savory products such as candy bars, tarts, peanuts, and crisps. After these 4 weeks the response of the same 61 biomarkers to the challenge test was evaluated. Here, we observed that signaling molecules such as hormones regulating the control of sugar and fat metabolism and inflammation were changed, resembling the very subtle start of negative health effects. Without the use of the challenge test, we would not have been able to observe that even this short period of overfeeding induces changes in the metabolism of healthy people that resemble what happens in people with metabolic syndrome.

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