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14-09-2011 | Cardiometabolic | Article

Metabolic syndrome present in one in five Canadians


Free abstract

MedWire News: One in five Canadian adults have the metabolic syndrome, suggests a study published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

"People at increased risk were those in households with lower education and income levels," write the authors.

Furthermore, "the burden of abdominal obesity, low high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, and hypertriglyceridemia among young people in our study is especially of concern, because the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age."

To determine the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and its components, as defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel (NCEP ATP)-III criteria and the most recent unified criteria (with standard and low thresholds for abdominal obesity), in Canadian adults, Natalie Riediger and Ian Clara (University of Manitoba, Canada) used data from cycle one (2007-2009) of the Canadian Health Measures Survey. They included data for respondents aged 18 years and older, and for whom fasting blood samples were available.

Overall, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the Canadian population was 19.1%.

Age was the strongest predictor of the metabolic syndrome, with 17% of participants aged 18-39 years having the metabolic syndrome compared with 39% of those aged 70-79 years. Prevalence was also higher in women than in men (20.5% vs 17.8%), but this finding was not statistically significant.

The researchers found that the most common combination of components among participants who met three of the criteria for the metabolic syndrome was abdominal obesity, low HDL cholesterol, and hypertriglyceridemia. Indeed, these three components were present in 30.4% of all individuals with the metabolic syndrome.

Individually, abdominal obesity was the most common component of the syndrome, with 35% of the population meeting this criterion. Abdominal obesity was more prevalent among women than men (40.0% vs 29.1%, respectively).

Men were more likely to have elevated fasting glucose levels than women (18.9% vs 13.6%, respectively), as well as hypertriglyceridemia (29% vs 20%). Furthermore, higher levels of education and income were significantly associated with a lower prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, independent of age and gender.

Of note, the rates observed in this study were "no worse than those in Australia and are lower than those in the United States," say Riediger and Clara.

They conclude: "Greater efforts are needed to address poor lifestyle habits, particularly among younger adults and those of low socioeconomic status. Clinically, these results reiterate the importance of screening for other cardiovascular risk factors among those who meet any of the criteria for [the] metabolic syndrome."

By Nikki Withers

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