“Metabolic syndrome” is the collective term for the health factors that increase the risk of metabolic conditions such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease and coronary artery disease.
In general, compared to a person who does not have metabolic syndrome, a person who does have it is at twice the risk of developing heart disease and five times the risk of developing diabetes.
The risk of developing metabolic syndrome is associated with excessive weight, obesity and inadequate levels of physical activity. Insulin resistance, which is associated with being overweight and obese, is another risk factor. Insulin resistance is a condition in which the body fails to use insulin effectively, and the blood sugar level rises as a direct result.
The reasons why bariatric surgery can improve diabetes and other conditions are not yet clear, although the benefits are mainly assumed to result from the weight loss patients achieve, which is usually around a quarter of their overall weight.
However, in the 1980s, clinicians observed fast metabolic changes in some patients after they had undergone surgery, which triggered curiosity over other potential factors involved.
There has been much research interest in this area, with scientists performing a range of studies to try to identify the potential mechanisms underlying the ability of the digestive system to adapt to its rearrangement.
Researchers hope to eventually be able to use such research to establish which patients will show the most positive effects in response to treatment. They also hope it will lead to the possibility of metabolism being altered in patients, without them having to undergo surgery.