In the last decade, obesity researchers have raised the sinister specter of "Syndrome X"—also known as metabolic syndrome. But this "syndrome" isn't a syndrome at all. It is simply a loosely defined constellation of "risk factors" that can be associated with obesity. In 2005, a joint statement issued by the American Diabetes Association and European Association for the Study of Diabetes in the journal Diabetes Care questioned the so-called syndrome. It read:
"…we found that the metabolic syndrome has been imprecisely defined, there is a lack of certainty regarding its pathogenesis, and there is considerable doubt regarding its value as a CVD risk marker. Our analysis indicates that too much critically important information is missing to warrant its designation as a 'syndrome.' Until much needed research is completed, clinicians should evaluate and treat all CVD risk factors without regard to whether a patient meets the criteria for diagnosis of the 'metabolic syndrome.'"
They went on to summarize their concerns about Syndrome X:
- "Criteria are ambiguous or incomplete. Rationale for thresholds are ill defined."
- "Value of including diabetes in the definition is questionable."
- "Insulin resistance as the unifying etiology is uncertain."
- "No clear basis for including/excluding other CVD risk factors."
- "CVD risk value is variable and dependent on the specific risk factors present."
- "The CVD risk associated with the 'syndrome' appears to be no greater than the sum of its parts."
- "Treatment of the syndrome is no different than the treatment for each of its components."
- "The medical value of diagnosing the syndrome is unclear."