Background: The prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MS) in children and adolescents has been increasing at an alarming rate. MS risks during childhood and adolescence adversely affect health conditions in later life. Thus, the characterization of their MS risks is a critical research field. The aims of this study are to survey the health status of Japanese adolescent females, a poorly characterized population, and to investigate the potential relationship between their MS risks and dietary factors like potassium (K) and taurine.
Methods: Anthropometric characteristics of 243 healthy school girls aged 13 to 18 years were measured. Serum levels of triglycerides, total cholesterol and high-density lipoprotein (HDL), and plasma levels of glucose and insulin were analyzed in fasting blood samples. We assessed overweight, disturbed lipid prolife, higher blood pressure (hBP) and higher plasma glucose (hGlc) levels as indicators of MS risks. The relationships between MS risks and urinary K or taurine excretion were investigated by dividing into higher and lower groups at medians of their urinary excretions.
Results: Half of junior high school (JHS) and one-quarter of senior high school (SHS) girls had at least one MS risk. The quite common risk was hGlc, the rates being 21% in JHS girls and 14% in SHS. The prevalence of being overweight and obesity were only small portions, the rate being 0% and 0% in JHS girls, and 10% and 1% in SHS, respectively. Substantial differences in the prevalence of hBP were observed between JHS (22%) and SHS (4%) girls. Furthermore, higher urinary K excretion group showed a significant decrease in triglyceride level (P = 0.03) and increase in HDL level (P = 0.003) compared with the lower. Also, the higher urinary taurine excretion group exhibited a significant reduction in triglyceride level (P = 0.04) compared with the lower.
Conclusions: These results indicate that control of plasma glucose level rather than body weight is a crucial task in Japanese pubertal girls, and that a dietary habit rich in K and taurine could improve their lipid profile. Nutritional education based on these findings would help to prevent the future development of MS in Japanese female adolescents.