Public Health Nutrition

Monitoring and surveillance

Metabolic syndrome in the elderly living in marginal peri-urban communities in Quito, Ecuador

Fernando Sempérteguia1a9, Bertha Estrellaa1, Katherine L Tuckera2a3, Davidson H Hamera3a4a5, Ximena Narvaeza1, Mercy Sempérteguia1, Jeffrey K Griffithsa3a7a8, Sabrina E Noela2, Gerard E Dallala2a3, Jacob Selhuba2a3 and Simin N Meydania2a3a6 c1

a1 Corporación Ecuatoriana de Biotecnología, Quito, Ecuador

a2 Jean Mayer USDA Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging, Tufts University, 711 Washington Street, Boston, MA 02111, USA

a3 Tufts University Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy, Boston, MA, USA

a4 Center for Global Health and Development, Boston University School of Public Health, Boston, MA, USA

a5 Section of Infectious Diseases, Department of Medicine, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, MA, USA

a6 Department of Pathology, Sackler School of Graduate Sciences, Tufts University, Boston, MA, USA

a7 Department of Public Health and Family Medicine, Tufts University School of Medicine, Boston MA, USA

a8 Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Tufts University School of Engineering, Medford, MA, USA

a9 Medical School, Central University of Ecuador, Ecuador


Objective The proportion of the Latin American population aged >60 years is expected to double during the next few decades. Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is associated with high morbidity and mortality worldwide. However, little is known about MetS in Latin America in general, and in Ecuador in particular. The present study aimed to examine the prevalence of MetS and its association with blood micronutrient, homocysteine (Hcy) and C-reactive protein (CRP) concentrations in the elderly living in a low-income urban area.

Design We performed a cross-sectional study. MetS, using the International Diabetes Federation definition, dietary intake and plasma micronutrient, CRP and Hcy concentrations were assessed.

Subjects A total of 352 elderly (≥65 years) Ecuadorians.

Setting Quito, Ecuador.

Results MetS was prevalent (40 %) – considerably more so among women (81 %) than men (19 %; χ2 = 32·6, P < 0·0001). Further, 53 % of those without MetS exhibited two or more of its components. Micronutrient deficiencies were prevalent, including those of vitamin C, zinc, vitamin B12 and folate. Vitamin C and E concentrations were inversely (OR = 0·78, 95 % CI 0·71, 0·86; OR = 0·16, 95 % CI 0·03, 0·81, respectively) and CRP (OR = 1·79, 95 % CI 1·04, 3·06) was positively associated with MetS.

Conclusions The coexistence of MetS with micronutrient deficiencies suggests that elderly Ecuadorians suffer from the double burden of diseases that are increasingly being observed in less developed countries. More research is needed to determine the causal factors, but results presented suggest that these older adults would benefit from interventions to reduce the risk factors for MetS, in particular higher consumption of micronutrient-rich foods.

(Received December 14 2009)

(Accepted August 07 2010)

(Online publication October 19 2010)


c1 Corresponding author: Email