Metabolic syndrome: prevalence among American Indian and Alaska native people living in the southwestern United States and in Alaska

Metab Syndr Relat Disord. 2008 Dec;6(4):267-73. doi: 10.1089/met.2008.0021.


Background: Metabolic syndrome occurs commonly in the United States. The purpose of this study was to measure the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among American Indian and Alaska Native people.

Methods: We measured the prevalence rates of metabolic syndrome, as defined by the National Cholesterol Education Program, among four groups of American Indian and Alaska Native people aged 20 years and older. One group was from the southwestern United States (Navajo Nation), and three groups resided within Alaska. Prevalence rates were age-adjusted to the U.S. adult 2000 population and compared to rates for U.S. whites (National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey [NHANES] 1988-1994).

Results: Among participants from the southwestern United States, metabolic syndrome was found among 43.2% of men and 47.3% of women. Among Alaska Native people, metabolic syndrome was found among 26.5% of men and 31.2% of women. In Alaska, the prevalence rate varied by region, ranging among men from 18.9% (western Alaska) to 35.1% (southeast), and among women from 22.0% (western Alaska) to 38.4 % (southeast). Compared to U.S. whites, American Indian/Alaska Native men and women from all regions except western Alaska were more likely to have metabolic syndrome; men in western Alaska were less likely to have metabolic syndrome than U.S. whites, and the prevalence among women in western Alaska was similar to that of U.S. whites.

Conclusion: The prevalence rate of metabolic syndrome varies widely among different American Indian and Alaska Native populations. Differences paralleled differences in the prevalence rates of diabetes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Factors
  • Aged
  • Alaska
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Indians, North American
  • Inuits
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Southwestern United States