Indigenous populations in transition: an evaluation of metabolic syndrome and its associated factors among the Toba of northern Argentina

Ann Hum Biol. 2015 Jan;42(1):84-90. doi: 10.3109/03014460.2014.932008. Epub 2014 Jul 8.


Background: The health problems associated with rapidly changing lifestyles in indigenous populations, e.g. cardiovascular disease, are becoming a public health concern.

Aim: The objective of this study was to evaluate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and analyse the metabolic conditions that define this syndrome, in an indigenous Toba community of northern Argentina.

Subjects and methods: A total of 275 adults participated in this study. Anthropometric (BMI, body fat percentage, waist circumference) and clinical measures (blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose and triglycerides) were taken. Pearson and logistic regressions were used in the statistical analysis of risk factors for metabolic syndrome by sex and by reproductive status in women.

Results: The overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 38%. Nearly a third (31%) of the population was overweight and 45% obese. Men had significantly higher blood pressure and levels of triglycerides than women, while women had higher percentages of body fat. BMI was significantly associated with most of the risk factors for metabolic syndrome. Menopausal women had a higher prevalence of metabolic syndrome than women of reproductive age.

Conclusion: Metabolic syndrome was highly prevalent in this indigenous community, which places them at an increased risk for cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Hypertension; nutritional transition; obesity.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Argentina / epidemiology
  • Blood Glucose
  • Blood Pressure
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / epidemiology*
  • Cholesterol / blood
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / epidemiology*
  • Life Style
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology*
  • Obesity / epidemiology*
  • Population Groups
  • Triglycerides / blood
  • Waist Circumference


  • Blood Glucose
  • Triglycerides
  • Cholesterol