The metabolic syndrome: prevalence, main characteristics and association with socio-economic status in adults living in Great Tunis

Diabetes Metab. 2010 Jun;36(3):204-8. doi: 10.1016/j.diabet.2009.11.009. Epub 2010 Mar 4.


Aims: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) and its association with socio-economic status in the population of Great Tunis.

Methods: The study included 2712 subjects (1228 men and 1484 women), aged 35-70 years and living in the Great Tunis region, all of whom were recruited between March 2004 and June 2005. The sample was weighted by using the inverse of the response rate according to governorate, district and gender. The MetS was defined according to the National Cholesterol Education Program-Adult Treatment Panel III.

Results: In the studied population, the overall prevalence of the MetS was 31.2%, and it was significantly more frequently seen in women than in men (37.3% vs 23.9%, respectively; P<0.001), as were abdominal obesity (69% vs 21.6%, respectively; P<0.001), high blood pressure (50.3% vs 43.1%, respectively; P<0.001) and low HDL cholesterol (40.6% vs 33.6%, respectively; P<0.001), the most common characteristics of the MetS. Also, the prevalence of the MetS increased with age in both genders, but more so in women. In those aged greater than 55 years, the prevalence of MetS was 56.7% in women and 30.7% in men. An inverse relationship was observed between level of education and prevalence of the MetS in women, with the highest prevalence being in illiterate women and the lowest in those who were university graduates.

Conclusion: The prevalence of the MetS is markedly high within the population of Great Tunis and especially in women. As these findings predict future increases in cardiovascular disease in these populations, substantial efforts need to be made to fight against obesity and sedentary lifestyles to ameliorate the expected poor health outcomes.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hyperglycemia / epidemiology
  • Hypertension / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity, Abdominal / epidemiology
  • Prevalence
  • Socioeconomic Factors
  • Tunisia / epidemiology