Objective To assess the frequency of the metabolic syndrome (MS) and its features in a sample of overweight and obese Greek children and adolescents.
Patients and Methods This prospective case–control study enrolled 152 overweight/obese cases and 152 normal weight controls, matched for sex and age, during a 2-year period (both groups consisted of 90 males and 62 females, with mean age 8.5 years). Basic demographic data, anthropometric indexes and blood pressure measurements were recorded. Blood samples were obtained after a 12-h overnight fast for the evaluation of lipid and glucose concentrations.
Results The prevalence of the MS was found in 1.4% of the control group compared with 14.1% in the overweight/obese group (p = 0.004). Only 16.9% of the overweight/obese children had no components of the MS, in contrast to 40.6% of the controls (p<0.001). Furthermore, the odds ratio for the presence of two components of the MS in the overweight/obese group was 2.28. (95% CI 1.11 to 4.65, p = 0.024). Overweight/obese children presented more frequently systolic and/or diastolic hypertension, compared with normal weight subjects (28.2% vs 1.1%, p<0.001). A significantly greater proportion of children with total cholesterol ⩾170 mg/dl and low-density lipoprotein cholesterol ⩾110 mg/dl was detected in the overweight/obese group than in controls (50.7% and 48.6% vs 31.9% and 26.1%, respectively), (p = 0.01 and p = 0.002, respectively).
Conclusions A high percentage of overweight/obese children met the criteria for the MS. As the MS is associated with an increased risk of atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease, these children should be considered candidates for aggressive therapeutic interventions.