Context: The Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults (ATP III) highlights the importance of treating patients with the metabolic syndrome to prevent cardiovascular disease. Limited information is available about the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the United States, however.
Objective: To estimate the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the United States as defined by the ATP III report.
Design, setting, and participants: Analysis of data on 8814 men and women aged 20 years or older from the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (1988-1994), a cross-sectional health survey of a nationally representative sample of the noninstitutionalized civilian US population.
Main outcome measures: Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome as defined by ATP III (>/=3 of the following abnormalities): waist circumference greater than 102 cm in men and 88 cm in women; serum triglycerides level of at least 150 mg/dL (1.69 mmol/L); high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level of less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men and 50 mg/dL (1.29 mmol/L) in women; blood pressure of at least 130/85 mm Hg; or serum glucose level of at least 110 mg/dL (6.1 mmol/L).
Results: The unadjusted and age-adjusted prevalences of the metabolic syndrome were 21.8% and 23.7%, respectively. The prevalence increased from 6.7% among participants aged 20 through 29 years to 43.5% and 42.0% for participants aged 60 through 69 years and aged at least 70 years, respectively. Mexican Americans had the highest age-adjusted prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (31.9%). The age-adjusted prevalence was similar for men (24.0%) and women (23.4%). However, among African Americans, women had about a 57% higher prevalence than men did and among Mexican Americans, women had about a 26% higher prevalence than men did. Using 2000 census data, about 47 million US residents have the metabolic syndrome.
Conclusions: These results from a representative sample of US adults show that the metabolic syndrome is highly prevalent. The large numbers of US residents with the metabolic syndrome may have important implications for the health care sector.