cardiovascular disease, Korea, lifestyle risk factors, metabolic syndrome, prevalence



  1. Park, Eunok PhD, RN
  2. Kim, JinShil PhD, RN


Background: Despite the growing prevalence of metabolic syndrome (MetS) in Korea, information is lacking on gender- and age-specific patterns in prevalence of MetS among Korean adults.


Aims: The aims of this study were to examine (1) gender-specific prevalence of MetS by its component abnormalities, (2) the prevalence of MetS and its component abnormalities by gender and 10-year age groups, and (3) gender-specific lifestyle risk factors for MetS presentation among Korean adults.


Methods: A secondary data analysis was performed using the most recent national survey. A sample group of 5760 adults (mean age, 44.6 +/- 0.46 years; 43.5% men) completed household interviews to provide blood (for high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglyceride, and glucose) and anthropometric measurements (ie, waist circumference, weight, and height) to define MetS, as well as data on lifestyle risk factors.


Results: Approximately 1 in 4 Korean adults met the MetS diagnostic criteria. Given each component abnormality, MetS was the most prevalent in men with low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (63.4%), followed by abdominal obesity (62.3%). In women, it was most prevalent in those with hypertriglyceridemia (73.2%), followed by hyperglycemia (69.7%). Metabolic syndrome showed an association with advanced age for both men and women (P < .001 for both), with greater prevalence of MetS in young and middle-aged men than in women (6.7%-39.9% vs 3.3%-36.4%); these patterns were reversed in people 60 years or older (34.0%-40.5% vs 55.2%-64.1%). Gender-specific lifestyle risk factors for MetS presentation showed a significant association with heavy alcohol drinking and obesity for both men (odds ratio, 1.65 and 5.26, respectively; P < .001 for both) and women (odds ratio, 1.96 and 5.94; P < .042 and < .001, respectively).


Conclusions: Metabolic syndrome is prevalent in a representative sample of Korean adults, with gender- and age-specific patterns. These results are helpful in identification of vulnerable subgroups at high risk for MetS, providing a basis for promotion of cardiovascular health and risk management of MetS.