British Journal of Nutrition

Full Papers

Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in Chinese adolescents

Y. Lia1a2, X. Yanga1, F. Zhaia1, F. J. Koka2, W. Zhaoa1, J. Piaoa1, J. Zhanga1, Z. Cuia1 and G. Maa1a2 c1

a1 National Institute for Nutrition and Food Safety, Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 29 Nan Wei Road, Beijing 100050, China

a2 Division of Human Nutrition, Wageningen University, The Netherlands


Since national figures on the occurrence of metabolic syndrome among Chinese adolescents are lacking, this study aims to estimate its prevalence and distribution among Chinese youngsters. The 2002 China National Nutrition and Health Survey is a nationally representative cross-sectional study. Applying the criteria for US adolescents, we estimated the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among 2761 adolescents aged 15 to 19 years. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome among Chinese adolescents overall was 3·7 % (10 % in US adolescents). It was 35·2 %, 23·4 % and 2·3 % among adolescents who were overweight (BMI ≥ 95th percentile), at risk of overweight (BMI between 85th and 95th percentile) and normal weight (BMI below the 85th percentile), respectively. Urban boys had the highest rate (5·8 %) compared with girls and rural youngsters. Among adolescents who had a BMI ≥ 85th percentile and one or two parent(s) with metabolic syndrome, the prevalence was 46·4 %. A total of 96 % of overweight adolescents had at least one and 74·1 % overweight adolescents had at least two abnormalities of metabolic syndrome. Based on these figures, it is estimated that more than three million Chinese adolescents have metabolic syndrome. Both overweight and metabolic syndrome prevalence among adolescents are still relatively low in China, but the prevalence of metabolic syndrome among Chinese overweight adolescents is similar to those living in the USA.

(Received February 08 2007)

(Revised May 09 2007)

(Accepted June 15 2007)


c1 Corresponding author: Professor Guansheng Ma, fax +86 10 83132021, email


Abbreviations: ATP III, The Third Report of the National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel