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Objects: Metabolic syndrome (MS) is an independent risk factor for chronic metabolic disorders (CMD). This study investigated the prevalence of MS and overweight/obesity among women of childbearing age in southern China. Methods: A nationally representative sample of 3200 southern Chinese women aged 20-45 years were randomly selected from 16 sampling units of two rural areas (Zhongshan and Xinhui) and two city regions (Guangzhou and Shenzhen) in Guangdong Province in China between June 2008 and July 2009. The prevalence of MS according to modified ATP III criteria and overweight/obesity (≥ 23.0 kg/m2) were analyzed.
Results: Approximately 1.28 million women in Guangdong, China, were estimated to have MS, with an ageadjusted prevalence of 6.6% (95% CI 5.3%-7.5%), and 4.22 million [21.7% (95% CI 20.2%-23.2%)] were estimated to have overweight/obesity. In total, 39.5% women had one component of MS, 19.4% two components, 5.6% three components, and 0.9% at least four components. Compared to the 4.7% MS prevalence in women aged 20-25 years, the prevalence increased in women aged 31-35 years (1.3-fold) and increased more sharply in women aged 36-45 years (2.3-fold). The age-specific prevalence of overweight/obesity increased steadily by 1.3-1.8-fold beginning at 26-30 years of age (9.0%), and it reached a peak at 36-45 years of age (36.0%). The prevalence of MS and overweight/obesity increased in rural residents who preferred unhealthy diets and exercised less compared to urban residents.
Conclusion: Some women of reproductive age in southern China had MS, and a significant, and perhaps growing, proportion of women were overweight. Less exercise contributes to the higher prevalence of MS and overweight/obesity among rural residents than urban residents.