Background: The metabolic syndrome and obesity are major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Little information exists on the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in China. We aimed to provide up-to-date estimates of the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and overweight in the general adult population in China.
Methods: We did a cross-sectional survey in a nationally representative sample of 15,540 Chinese adults aged 35-74 years in 2000-01. Metabolic syndrome was defined according to guidelines from the US National Cholesterol Education Program. Overweight was defined as body-mass index of 25.0 kg/m2 or greater.
Findings: The age-standardised prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 9.8% (95% CI 9.0-10.6) in men and 17.8% (16.6-19.0) in women. The age-standardised prevalence of overweight was 26.9% (25.7-28.1) in men and 31.1% (29.7-32.5) in women. The prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and overweight was higher in northern than in southern China, and higher in urban than rural residents.
Interpretation: Our results indicate that a large proportion of Chinese adults have the metabolic syndrome and that overweight has become an important public health problem in China. These findings emphasise the urgent need to develop national strategies for the prevention, detection, and treatment of overweight and the metabolic syndrome, to reduce the societal burden of cardiovascular disease in China.