Metabolic syndrome, or What you will: definitions and epidemiology

Caroline Day*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The 'metabolic syndrome' is a clustering of risk factors which predispose an individual to cardiovascular morbidity and mortality. There is general consensus regarding the main components of the syndrome (glucose intolerance, obesity, raised blood pressure and dyslipidaemia [elevated triglycerides, low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol]) but different definitions require different cut points and have different mandatory inclusion criteria. Although insulin resistance is considered a major pathological influence, only the World Health Organization (WHO) and European Group for the study of Insulin Resistance (EGIR) definitions include it amongst the diagnostic criteria and only the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definition has waist circumference as a mandatory component. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome within individual cohorts varies with the definition used. Within each definition, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increases with age and varies with gender and ethnicity. There is a lack of diagnostic concordance between different definitions. Only about 30% of people could be given the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome using most definitions, and about 35-40% of people diagnosed with metabolic syndrome are only classified as such using one definition. There is currently debate regarding the validity of the term metabolic syndrome, but the presence of one cardiovascular risk factor should raise suspicion that additional risk factors may also be present and encourage investigation. Individual risk factors should be treated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)32-38
Number of pages7
JournalDiabetes and Vascular Disease Research
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2007


  • Cardiovascular risk
  • Diabetes
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity


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