Objective: Weight gain is a risk factor for metabolic syndrome (MS). However, it is not known whether weight fluctuations (WF) have a deleterious effect upon MS risk. In the present study, we investigated this association in subjects participating in the SU.VI.MAX cohort.
Methods: MS status was assessed at baseline (1994/1995) and at the end of follow-up (2001/2002) using the National Cholesterol Education Program-Adult Treatment Panel III criteria. WF were estimated with four weight measures during follow-up. Odds ratio (OR, 95% confidence interval (CI)) for incident MS cases was evaluated according to four WF groups (no WF and tertiles of WF) in 3553 middle-aged subjects.
Results: The OR (95% CI) for MS was 2.06 (1.20-3.52) for the third WF tertile compared to the first tertile. This association was independent of confounding variables, especially relative weight change during follow-up. Subjects without WF had a 2.72-fold increase (1.64-4.53) for MS risk compared to the first tertile of WF. For MS components taken separately, similar associations were found for raised blood pressure, low high-density lipoprotein-cholesterol and increased waist circumference.
Conclusion: Our results showed that WF was an independent risk factor for MS after 7 years of follow-up. Moreover, subjects without WF were also at risk for MS, due to the highest weight gain during follow-up. These results support the benefits of weight stability and emphasize the importance of weight gain prevention starting from early adulthood.