Metabolic Syndrome and TeensResearchers have found that teenagers who suffer from metabolic syndrome do not perform as well academically.  A study looked at 111 teenagers, 49 of whom had metabolic syndrome and 62 who did not, and found that the teens with metabolic syndrome performed 5 to 15% worse on academic tests than their healthy counterparts. Researchers noted that while scores varied across the group, the teens who suffered from metabolic syndrome did not outscore the control group in any individual subject test.

Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that can increase your risk of heart disease, stroke, or diabetes. The conditions include high blood pressure, insulin resistance, high triglycerides, excess fat around the waist, and low levels of HDL or “good” cholesterol. Typically, a person is diagnosed as having metabolic syndrome if they have at least three of the five criteria.

In the recent study, teens had anywhere from zero to all five of the indicators. The researchers noted that teens who showed more indicators did increasingly worse on their tests. The study also found that the kids who had metabolic syndrome had a smaller hippocampus on average than the kids who didn’t suffer from the syndrome. The hippocampus is an area of the brain involved in learning and forming memories.

Sedentary Lifestyle and Extra Weight Can Contribute to Metabolic Syndrome

It’s important to note that simply being overweight is not synonymous with having metabolic syndrome. Many teens that are very active carry excess weight, which is one indicator of metabolic syndrome, but not the most alarming one. The researchers pointed out that parents don’t need to worry nearly as much about active children who carry a little extra weight. Rather, parents should be concerned if their children are overweight and inactive, as a sedentary lifestyle can lead to the development of metabolic syndrome.

Experts say that the best way to fight the symptoms of metabolic syndrome and lead a healthier life is to exercise and eat right. About 30 minutes of exercise per day can help reduce body fat, improve blood pressure, and reduce insulin resistance. Eating right can also help correct each of these symptoms and improve cholesterol levels. A diet rich in protein, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains is ideal for a healthy waistline and a healthy life.