Identifying the metabolic syndrome in obese children and adolescents: do age and definition matter?

Mariska van Vliet, Inès A von Rosenstiel, Roger K Schindhelm, Dees P M Brandjes, Jos H Beijnen, Michaela Diamant
Current Clinical Pharmacology 2009, 4 (3): 233-8

OBJECTIVES: To assess the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in overweight/obese children and adolescents of an out-patient clinic, and to compare two definitions of MetS in adolescents.

METHODS: In total, 528 overweight / obese children (3-16 years), of multi-ethnic origin, underwent an oral glucose tolerance test, blood collections and anthropometric measurements. In children <10 years, MetS was assessed according to child-specific cut-off values (MetS-child). In adolescents, MetS-child and MetS-adolescent (the recommendation of the International Diabetes Federation for adolescents) were compared.

RESULTS: The prevalence of MetS-child within the cohort (median age 11.3, range 3.1-16.4 yrs) was 18.6% (children <10 years vs. adolescents: 14.1% vs. 20.7%, P=0.073). Insulin resistance was present in 47.7% (children <10 years vs. adolescents: 21.8% vs. 60.1%, P<0.001). MetS-child was highly prevalent, and not statistically significant between age groups. In adolescents, the prevalence of MetS-adolescent was higher than MetS-child (33.2% vs. 20.7%, P<0.001). The agreement between the MetS definitions was moderate (kappa =0.51), with the agreement for the MetS-criteria for abnormal lipid levels being substantial to very good (kappa =0.71 to 0.80).

CONCLUSIONS: MetS-child was highly prevalent in overweight/obese children and adolescents. A higher prevalence of MetS according to adolescent- as compared to child-specific criteria was found.

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