A complex web of risks for metabolic syndrome: race/ethnicity, economics, and gender

Am J Prev Med. 2007 Aug;33(2):114-20. doi: 10.1016/j.amepre.2007.03.017.


Background: Metabolic syndrome is a recognizable clinical cluster of risks known to be associated in combination and independently with an increased risk for cardiovascular disease (CVD). Identifying and treating metabolic syndrome is one promising strategy to reduce CVD. The intersection of race/ethnicity, gender, and economic status complicates our understanding of who is at risk for metabolic syndrome, but understanding this social patterning is important for the development of targeted interventions. This study examines the relationship between metabolic syndrome (and the underlying contributing risk factors) and race/ethnicity, economic status, and gender.

Methods: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data collected from 1999 through 2002 were used; analysis was completed in 2006-2007. Metabolic syndrome was defined using the Adult Treatment Panel III definition. Economic status was measured using income as a percentage of the poverty level. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome and each of its contributing risk factors were determined by race/ethnicity and economic group. Logistic regressions were estimated. All analyses were stratified by gender.

Results: Economic effects were seen for women, but not men. Women in the lowest economic group were more likely to be at risk in four of the five risk categories when compared with women in the highest economic group. Differences in the contributing risk profiles for metabolic syndrome were seen by race/ethnicity.

Conclusions: Strategies to reduce CVD must be built on a clear understanding of the differences in contributing risk factors for metabolic syndrome across subgroups. The findings from this study provide further information to guide the targeting of these strategies.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Ethnic Groups
  • Female
  • Gender Identity
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / economics
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • United States / epidemiology