While a third of the U.S. population in 2012 had metabolic syndrome, that number is no longer growing and may be declining in some populations, judging from NHANES data discussed in a research letter from Dr. Maria Aguilar, of the department of medicine in the Alameda Health System–Highland Hospital, Oakland, Calif., and her associates.

From 2003 to 2012, overall prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the United States was 33%. From 2003-2004 to 2011-2012, overall prevalence of the metabolic syndrome increased from 32.9% to 34.7%. During this period, metabolic syndrome prevalence trends among men and all race/ethnic groups remained stable, while decreasing among women from 39.4% in 2007-2008 to 36.6% in 2011-2012.

Increasing metabolic syndrome prevalence was seen with increasing age in all groups.

“Greater awareness of the metabolic syndrome and its health consequences may have contributed to improvements in optimizing treatment of risk factors such as hypertension and diabetes. Furthermore, recent NHANES data demonstrate that obesity prevalence in the United States also appears to have stabilized, which also may contribute to the stabilizing prevalence of the metabolic syndrome,” the investigators noted.

Find the full research letter in JAMA (doi:10.1001/jama.2015.4260).

lfranki@frontlinemedcom.com

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