Alarming study finds 1 in 3 U.S. adults have this scary syndrome

A whopping 34.7 percent of Americans have metabolic syndrome, which can lead to serious heart problems and even a stroke.

A team of researchers used data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey to look into the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, and found that it had jumped 32.9 percent in 2003-04 to 34.7 percent in 2011-12, although that has leveled off in recent years, which is an encouraging sign, according to a Los Angeles Times report.

It’s an extremely serious condition that many sufferers probably aren’t aware that they have. Metabolic syndrome comes about due to poor diet and exercise habits resulting in a large waist, high blood pressure, low levels of “good” HDL cholesterol, high triglycerides, and high fasting blood sugar, all risk factors for the syndrome according to guidelines from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Those that don’t deal with it place themselves at risk of serious heart issues down the line, or even the development of diabetes. In any case, premature death could be lurking for millions of Americans who don’t even know it.

The study found that women get metabolic syndrome at a significantly higher rate than men — 37 percent versus 33 percent in the most recent data. Ethnically, Latinos are at the highest risk at 39 percent, followed closely by whites at 37 percent and African-Americans at 36 percent, with “other” races at just 23 percent.

But the biggest factor is age. Those who are over 60 have metabolic syndrome 47 percent of the time, versus just 18 percent for those under 40 but at least 20 years old.

Metabolic syndrome is common in America because of the notoriously unhealthy lifestyles of most adults, which involves eating high-calorie foods loaded with fat and carbs, a lack of exercise and general activity, and a sedentary lifestyle. A good sign that someone has metabolic syndrome is central obesity, where weight builds up around the waist and can result in a number of associated conditions, including fatty liver, erectile dysfunction in men, and polycystic ovarian syndrome in women.