Various definitions are used to define metabolic syndrome in adolescents. This study aimed to compare, in terms of prevalence and differences, five frequently used definitions for this population: International Diabetes Federation, National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP-ATP) modified by Cook, pediatric American Heart Association (AHA), World Health Organization, and Jolliffe and Janssen. A sample of 1004 adolescents (12.5-17.0 years) from the Healthy Lifestyle in Europe by Nutrition in Adolescence (HELENA) study was considered. The components of the definitions (waist circumference/BMI, plasma lipids, glycemia, and blood pressure) were applied, and definitions were compared by using crosstabs, sensitivity, specificity, and kappa coefficient. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome varied from 1.6 to 3.8% depending on the used definitions. Crosstabs comparing the definitions showed the fewest cases being misclassified (having metabolic syndrome or not) between NCEP-ATP and AHA. Analyses for kappa coefficient, sensitivity, and specificity confirmed this finding.
Conclusion: The different definitions do not classify the same adolescents as having MS and prevalence varied between diagnostic methods. The modified NCEP-ATP and the AHA definitions were most analogous in defining subjects as having metabolic syndrome or not. What is known? • Metabolic syndrome is not only a problem of adulthood but is already present in children and adolescents. • Several diagnostic methods are used to define metabolic syndrome in adolescents. What is new? • Comparing the most frequently used definitions of metabolic syndrome in adolescents showed that they do not indicate the same adolescents as having metabolic syndrome. • The modified National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III and the pediatric American Heart Association definitions were most analogous in defining subjects as having metabolic syndrome or not.
Keywords: Insulin resistance; Metabolic criteria; Metabolic risk factors; Youth.