IDF logoIDF Worldwide Definition of the  Metabolic Syndrome

“The metabolic syndrome is a cluster of the most dangerous heart attack risk factors: diabetes and prediabetes, abdominal obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure.

A quarter of the world’s adults have metabolic syndrome

People with metabolic syndrome are twice as likely to die from, and three times as likely to have a heart attack or stroke compared with people without the syndrome

People with metabolic syndrome have a five-fold greater risk of developing type 2 diabetes

Up to 80% of the 200 million people with diabetes globally will die of cardiovascular disease

Several organizations have criteria for diagnosing metabolic syndrome. The following guidelines were created by the National Cholesterol Education Program with modifications by the American Heart Association. According to these guidelines, you have metabolic syndrome if you have three or more of these traits:

Large waist circumference, greater than 35 inches (89 cm) for women and 40 inches (102 cm) for men. Certain genetic risk factors, such as having a family history of diabetes or being of Asian descent — which increases your risk of insulin resistance — lower the waist circumference limit. If you have one of these genetic risk factors, waist circumference limits are 31 inches (79 cm) for women and 35 to 37 inches (89 to 94 cm) for men.

An elevated triglyceride level of 150 mg/dL (1.7 mmol/L) or higher, or you’re receiving treatment for high triglycerides.

Reduced HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol) — less than 40 mg/dL (1.04 mmol/L) in men or less than 50 mg/dL (1.3 mmol/L) in women, or you’re receiving treatment for low HDL.

Increased blood pressure, meaning a systolic (top number) blood pressure measurement of 130 millimeters of mercury (mm Hg) or more or a diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure measurement of 85 mm Hg or more.

Elevated fasting blood sugar (blood glucose) of 100 mg/dL (5.6 mmol/L) or higher, or you’re receiving treatment for high blood sugar.

 “If you have metabolic syndrome or any of the components of metabolic syndrome, aggressive lifestyle changes can delay or even prevent the development of serious health problems.” – Mayo Clinic: April, 2013

Read more about Metabolic Syndrome here:

IDF Consensus Worldwide Definition of the Metabolic Syndrome (24-page booklet, pdf 745KB)


A Study on Metabolic Syndrome in Children:


Objective  Childhood obesity is increasingly common and is associated with health problems; in particular, obesity plays a central role in the metabolic syndrome (MS). We estimated the prevalence of MS in Caucasian children and adolescents with varying degrees of obesity.

Patients and methods  We studied 191 obese [body mass index (BMI) > 97th percentile] children and adolescents. Seventy-six, non-obese subjects were recruited into a comparison group. Thirty-one of them were of normal weight (BMI < 75th percentile) and 45 overweight (BMI 75th–97th percentile).

Patients were classified as having MS if they met three or more of the following criteria for age and sex: BMI > 97th percentile, triglyceride levels > 95th percentile, high density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol level < 5th percentile, systolic or diastolic blood pressure > 95th percentile and impaired glucose tolerance (blood glucose level: 7·8–11·1 mmol/l at 2 h). Insulin resistance was calculated using the homeostasis model assessment for insulin resistance (HOMA-IR) and impaired insulin sensitivity.

Results  The overall prevalence of MS was 13·9% and was present in 12·0% of moderately obese and 31·1% of severely obese subjects; no overweight or normal weight subjects met the criteria for MS. The rate of the MS increased progressively with increasing BMI categories (P < 0·001). Severely obese patients had a threefold increased risk with respect to moderately obese patients.

Conclusions  The prevalence of the MS is higher in obese as opposed to non-obese subjects and increases with severity of obesity.