Are gender and ethnicity risk factors for metabolic syndrome in children?

©2013 Mary Ann Liebert, Inc., publishers

Metabolic syndrome is more likely to affect children who are obese than overweight or non-overweight and who have other characteristics associated with the disorder, such as high blood pressure or insulin resistance. A new comprehensive and systematic review of the medical literature on metabolic syndrome in children that probed deeper to evaluate the risk associated with gender, ethnicity, and geography was published in Metabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders.

Amanda Friend, MBChB, Leone Craig, PhD, and Steve Turner, MD, University of Aberdeen, Scotland, assessed data from 85 studies and reported their findings in the article "The Prevalence of in Children: A Systematic Review of the Literature." Overall, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased substantially when comparing groups of overweight or obese children to whole populations of youths.

The authors found significant differences in metabolic syndrome prevalence for boys versus girls and for older compared to younger children. Some evidence suggested that there may also be an association between ethnicity and region of the world where a child lives and the prevalence of metabolic syndrome—a possible link that warrants further study.

"The authors should be lauded for their comprehensive and careful review of a group that has been largely ignored, which is children," says Ishwarlal (Kenny) Jialal, MD, PhD, Editor-in-Chief of the Journal and Director of the Laboratory for Atherosclerosis and Metabolic Research and Professor of Internal Medicine at the University of California, Davis Medical Center (Sacramento). "They clearly show that increasing age, male sex, and adiposity are risk factors for metabolic syndrome in children. They also emphasize the need for future studies to confirm the reported increased prevalence in certain ethnic groups."

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