Linking Metabolic Syndrome, CV Risk & Economic Development

Research Paper Title

Dramatic Escalation in Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Risk in a Chinese Population Experiencing Rapid Economic Development.


Metabolic syndrome (MetSyn) increases the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Information on changes in prevalence of MetSyn in developing countries is limited. This study aims to compare MetSyn prevalence and its associated vascular risk over the period between 2002 and 2010 in a population which has had the world’s fastest economic development over the past three decades.


Two health surveys were conducted by using the multistage cluster random sampling method in a Chinese population of 85 million in southern China. The participants received a full medical check-up, including measurement of blood pressure (BP), obesity indices, fasting lipids and glucose levels. Data describing socio-economic status and lifestyle factors were also collected through interview. Metabolic syndrome was defined in accordance with the International Diabetes Federation criteria.


A total of 3,561 participants from Survey 2010 were included in the data analysis. Women had a significantly higher prevalence of MetSyn than men. Comparison between the two surveys shows that age-standardized prevalence of MetSyn increased fourfold (from 5.4% in 2002 to 21.3% in 2010) in those >= 20 years. Among the MetSyn components, prevalence of hyperglycaemia has increased most (from 9.1% to 53.1%). The age-standardized prevalence of central obesity, hypertension, hypertriglyceridaemia and low HDL-cholesterol increased from 13.5% to 25.4%, from 23.6% to 40.8%, from 12.1% to 17.4% and from 32.1% to 71.1%, respectively. Differences between rural and urban residents in the prevalence in MetSyn and its components narrowed in 2010.


Cardiovascular risk escalated dramatically in this population between 2002 and 2010. The escalation may relate to the rapid economic development, which led to accelerating changes in nutrition, lifestyle, and socio-economic status. Our findings suggest that health transition in rapidly developing second- and third-world countries may be much faster than what has been observed in Western countries.


Lao, X.Q., Ma, W.J., Sobko, T., Zhang, Y.H., Xu, Y.J., Xu, X.J., Yu, D.M., Nie, S.P., Cai, M.C., Wei, X.L., Xia, L. & Wong, M.C-s. (2014) Dramatic Escalation in Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Risk in a Chinese Population Experiencing Rapid Economic Development. BMC Public Health. 14, pp.983. doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-983.


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