Socioeconomic position and the metabolic syndrome in early, middle, and late life: evidence from NHANES 1999-2002

Ann Epidemiol. 2007 Oct;17(10):782-90. doi: 10.1016/j.annepidem.2007.05.003. Epub 2007 Aug 13.


Purpose: To evaluate whether there is an association between socioeconomic position (SEP) and the metabolic syndrome at various ages, including adolescent, middle-aged and older participants in gender-specific analyses.

Methods: Participants were from the 1999-2002 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. SEP was measured by income and years of education. Metabolic syndrome was measured in adults using the American Heart Association guidelines and in adolescents using methods based on national reference data. Cross-sectional multivariable-adjusted logistic regression analyses were performed.

Results: In women aged 25 to 45 and 46 to 65 years, income below the poverty line (poverty income ratio [PIR] less than one) was associated with higher odds of metabolic syndrome compared with PIR greater than 3 (odds ratio [OR] = 4.90; 95% confidence interval (CI) = 2.24, 10.71, and OR = 2.54; CI = 1.38, 4.67, for the respective age groups) after adjustment for age, race/ethnicity, and menopause. Similar findings were observed for educational attainment. In adolescents, older adults (aged >65 years), and males, income and education were not related to the metabolic syndrome.

Conclusions: This report demonstrates that SEP is associated with the metabolic syndrome in females aged 25 to 65 years and is less strongly associated in males, adolescents, or older participants. These findings provide physiologic mechanistic evidence linking SEP to risk for coronary heart disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Child
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutrition Surveys*
  • Social Class*
  • United States / epidemiology