Objective: To use factor analysis to examine the putative role of leptin in the Metabolic Syndrome, and to define better the associations among observed variables and the identified factors.
Design: Factor analysis of cross-sectional data from a 1987 survey.
Subjects: Non-diabetic residents of Mauritius who participated in population-based surveys in 1987 and 1992 (1414 men and 1654 women).
Measurements: Fasting and 2 h plasma glucose and insulin following a 75 g oral glucose load; seated blood pressure; body mass index (BMI); waist-to-hip ratio (WHR); and fasting serum triglycerides, HDL-cholesterol, leptin and uric acid concentrations.
Results: Principal components factor analysis revealed three factors for men and women that explained between 54 and 55% of the observed variance of the 12 measured variables. General features of these factors were as follows: factor 1, WHR, BMI, leptin, fasting and 2 h insulin, triglycerides, and HDL-cholesterol; factor 2, systolic and diastolic blood pressure, uric acid (men only), and fasting glucose (women only); and factor 3, fasting and 2 h glucose and insulin. Only three variables loaded on more than one factor with a loading > or = 0.4 (fasting and 2 h insulin, fasting glucose in women only). Leptin loaded on one factor only in both men and women.
Conclusions: Since multiple factors underlie the Metabolic Syndrome, and since no observed variable loads on all three factors, more than one mechanism might account for the observed clustering of risk characteristics. Leptin does not unite features of this syndrome due to its loading on one factor only. Uric acid is related to a different factor in men and women. The absence of gender differences in factor loadings argues for similar mechanisms for the Metabolic Syndrome in men and women in Mauritius. International Journal of Obesity (2001) 25, 126-131