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The metabolic syndrome (MetS) encompasses a constellation of metabolic abnormalities that are thought to place patients at higher risk for the development of diabetes and cardiovascular (CV) disease. The underlying pathophysiology is still a point of contention among various professional organizations leading to inconsistencies in the manner in which MetS is defined. Each definition has its advantages and disadvantages. Nonetheless, there is an agreement that insulin resistance and obesity are likely the central contributing factors. Because the prevalence of obesity has been increasing at a frightening rate in the past few decades, MetS represents a major public health problem that should be identified clinically in individual patients. This review describes the changing epidemiology of obesity and of MetS and discusses its importance in CV disease. We outline the existing controversies that surround MetS and discuss the role of lifestyle, pharmacological, surgical, and novel approaches in its management.
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