Prevalence of risk factors for metabolic syndrome in adolescents: National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), 2001-2006

Arch Pediatr Adolesc Med. 2009 Apr;163(4):371-7. doi: 10.1001/archpediatrics.2009.3.


Objective: To investigate the prevalence of distinct combinations of components of the metabolic syndrome among adolescents.

Design: A complex, multistage, stratified geographic area design for collecting representative data from the noninstitutionalized US population.

Setting: The NHANES, an ongoing surveillance of the nation's health conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Participants: Two thousand four hundred fifty-six Hispanic, white, and black adolescents aged 12 to 19 years observed in the 2001-2002, 2003-2004, and 2005-2006 NHANES data releases.

Main outcome measures: Metabolic syndrome was defined as having 3 or more disorders in the following measurements: waist circumference, blood pressure, fasting triglycerides, high-density lipoprotein serum cholesterol, and glucose.

Results: About half of the participants had at least 1 disordered measurement, with an overall metabolic syndrome prevalence of 8.6% (95% confidence interval, 6.5%-10.6%). Prevalence was higher in males (10.8%) than females (6.1%), and in Hispanic (11.2%) and white (8.9%) individuals than in black individuals (4.0%). In black females, there was a high prevalence of a large waist circumference (23.3%), but no component of metabolic syndrome dominated its diagnosis in black adolescents of either sex. A large waist circumference and high fasting triglyceride and low high-density lipoprotein serum cholesterol concentrations were salient factors in Hispanic and white adolescents of both sexes; high glucose concentrations were prominent among Hispanic and white males.

Conclusion: The low prevalence of metabolic syndrome in black adolescents, in parallel with uniformly low prevalence of all 5 risk factors among those with metabolic syndrome, portend ethnic disparities in the time table for early onset of cardiometabolic disorders.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • African Americans / statistics & numerical data
  • Age Distribution
  • Anthropometry
  • Asian Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Body Mass Index
  • Child
  • Confidence Intervals
  • European Continental Ancestry Group / statistics & numerical data
  • Female
  • Health Status Disparities
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / diagnosis
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / ethnology
  • Multivariate Analysis
  • Nutrition Surveys
  • Obesity / diagnosis
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Distribution
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Young Adult