Experts advise parents to keep a keen eye on their kids' waist circumference to prevent metabolic syndrome.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of different conditions including decreased "good" high-density lipoprotein (HDL) and increased levels of fasting blood sugar, fasting triglycerides and blood pressure.

Metabolic syndrome is also correlated with low sensitivity to insulin thus causing sugar to pool in the blood.

The main physical manifestation of the syndrome is central obesity or excessive fat in the abdominal area.

Not being able to detect and address metabolic syndrome early may lead to serious complications.

Benjamin Guinhouya from the University of Lille in France advises parents to observe their children's weight and waist circumference as these are relatively easy to detect unlike other indicators.

"Efforts should be carried out to keep the waist circumference of children to less than half their height," says Guinhouya said.

To do this, he advises appropriate dietary choices, active lifestyle and reduced sedentary hobbies.

A new study found that childhood metabolic syndrome appears to have good outcomes in the recent years, thanks to healthier dietary choices.

The research, which was conducted from 1999-2012, involves 5,117 kids aged 12 to 19 years old.

The investigators analyzed the data of these participants to determine the trends of metabolic syndrome severity, diet and physical activity.

The findings of the study, published in the journal Pediatrics, show a trend of decreasing metabolic syndrome despite increases in Body Mass Index (BMI) values. This suggests that the favorable outcomes of metabolic syndrome trends may be due to increasing HDL and decreasing triglycerides.

Teenagers are eating fewer calories and healthier unsaturated fats than the teens from more than 10 years ago.

"This supports the important idea that changes to your lifestyle choices are the key to improving cardiovascular risk status," says senior study author Dr. Mark DeBoer from the University of Virginia.

No changes were noted in blood sugar and blood pressure throughout the study as well as physical activity from 2007-2012 (when the authors included exercise component). This suggests that diet is the main player here. However, the authors cannot solely attribute dietary changes as the key factor for such favorable results.

One reason is the under or over reporting of physical activity, which was assessed based on teen reports only.

Overall, the study is relevant as metabolic syndrome is common among young people. The study was able to suggest the importance of looking into lifestyle changes in altering the severity of signs and symptoms.

Photo: Quinn Dombrowski | Flickr

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