Background: Understanding of C-reactive protein (CRP) in adult metabolic syndrome is increasing; however, this relationship in children is less clear.
Methods: We compared the prevalence of metabolic abnormalities and metabolic syndrome in fasting 12- to 19-year-olds from the 1999-2000 and 1988-1994 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES). In the more recent dataset we explored the relationship between metabolic abnormalities and CRP as measured by a high-sensitivity assay.
Results: The prevalence of central obesity, low HDL-cholesterol, and hypertension increased between the 2 surveys. Three or more abnormalities (metabolic syndrome) were found in 12.7% [95% confidence interval (CI), 10.0%-15.4%] of fasting adolescents from the 1999-2000 survey, compared with 9.2% (95% CI, 7.8%-10.6%; P < 0.001) in the 1988-1994 dataset, with increases also seen in sex and ethnic/racial subgroups. Increases in metabolic syndrome were primarily attributable to increasing body mass index (BMI); prevalence of BMI at or above the 85th percentile increased from 25.9% to 30.5%. Metabolic syndrome was much more prevalent in overweight compared with normal-weight adolescents (38.6% vs 1.4%; P < 0.001). Median CRP increased with increasing numbers of metabolic abnormalities and was higher in adolescents with metabolic syndrome than in those without. CRP was higher in adolescents with BMI at or above the 85th percentile than those with normal BMI.
Conclusions: Metabolic abnormalities and the metabolic syndrome phenotype are increasingly prevalent in US adolescents, attributable in part to the increasing incidence of overweight. Adolescents with more metabolic abnormalities have higher CRP, which may be an indicator of greater metabolic derangement and future cardiovascular risk.