Tired All the Time? Mood Swings? Craving Carbs? You Syndrome X Could Have; ONE IN FOUR OF US SUFFERS WITH IT T BUT FEW OF US HAVE EVER EVEN HEARD OF THE METABOLIC CONDITION, WHICH CAN LEAD TO TYPE 2 DIABETES

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Byline: Catherine Quinn

Have you been feeling irritated about that muffin top but can't kick your craving for sugary treats and comforting carbs? Or do you live in a constant mental fog relying on caffeine to keep you going? You might be suffering from a silent but little-known condition affecting millions of people.

Putting weight on around the waist is just one of the symptoms of Syndrome X or metabolic syndrome, which as many as 15 million Brits are suffering from, but less than half know they have it and many more haven't heard of it.

Metabolic syndrome is a combination of medical disorders that, when they occur together result in a degree of insulin resistance and, more often that not, type 2 diabetes.

While it can be genetic, typically it affects older people with a more sedentary lifestyle. Yet poor awareness means many people are silently suffering.

Maggie Poet was one such person. The 62-year-old retired nursery headteacher from Hove, East Sussex, was diagnosed with metabolic syndrome in April.

"I had mood swings, sleep problems, and was really tired all the time," she says. "I also had a very sore tongue, which was agony, and no doctor or dentist had been st had been able to fix it."

Luckily for Maggie, her daughter had heard of the syndrome and recognised her symptoms. She suggested her mother went for tests.

"I had my insulin levels tested, which is something GPs don't really do," explains Maggie. g " "When the GP diagnosed metabolic syndrome I'd never heard of it. Then he gave me a healthy eating programme he suggested I follow. d r a e "Within six weeks I'd lost 6cm off my waist and my symptoms, the sleeplessness, the irritability, had gone. It was incredible. I was a completely different body shape and I felt st my ss, as ely elt amazing." Maggie had been in the advanced stages of metabolic syndrome.

Insulin resistance had kicked in, meaning insulin was less able to let sugar from her bloodstream into her cells - a sure sign diabetes was just around the corner.

While Maggie's case is not unusual, the fact she's been diagnosed is. Millions throughout the UK are estimated to be suffering from undiagnosed metabolic syndrome, but with the NHS stretched to capacity, the Department of Health admits it is short of funds to tackle the issue.

So what exactly is metabolic syndrome? The illness involves weight gain around the tummy, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and high blood sugar. Symptoms can include tiredness, mood swings, sugar cravings and problems sleeping.

Metabolic syndrome also causes blood sugar to begin spiralling out of control, starting a cycle of sugar craving and weight gain. It could also be the reason so many of us can't resist a sweet treat or high-carb snack.

"I craved carbs," says Maggie. "It wasn't just chocolate, things like bagels at lunch were just impossible to resist."

Her body thought it was starving, sending her clear signals to eat more sugary foods. But the more carbs and sugar she ate, the worse the problem became.

So how many of us blame our cravings on lack of willpower when something ore sinister is to blame? "Metabolic ndrome is extremely common," says searcher Professor Christopher Byrne the University of Southampton, whose udies have found as many as 26% of Brits ave the so-called 'Syndrome X'.

on mo sy res of stu has u a "The problem is that it often comes ithout any symptoms at all. The rst people know of it is when they ave diabetes."

wi fir ha i r a Sufferers may not even be overweight nd many blame signs like tiredness nd mood swings on getting older, or oublesome hormones.

an an tro nno "I thought my symptoms were down to e menopause and middle-age spread," ys Maggie. "And I put the mood wings and problems sleeping down to at, too."

the sa sw tha waadMe Like many suffering with Syndrome X, aggie was not overweight. …