• community health;
  • gender;
  • health-promoting lifestyle behaviours;
  • metabolic syndrome;
  • risk factors

Aims.  The aim was to explore the prevalence of five components of metabolic syndrome with respect to gender and health-promoting lifestyle behaviours.

Background.  Age- and gender-specific strategies might be useful as an approach to controlling metabolic syndrome. Prevention or delaying the onset of metabolic syndrome is of utmost importance in terms of chronic disease care in Taiwan.

Design.  This was a cross-sectional study.

Method.  Participants self-completed a questionnaire and replied via mail.

Results.  The overall prevalence rate of metabolic syndrome was 24·07%, with men showing a higher rate than women. High blood pressure was the first abnormal component. The genders were significantly different in the prevalence of high blood pressure, hypertriglyceridemia and decreased HDL-C. Age was also a significant determinant and positively correlated to the total Health-Promoting Lifestyle Profile II (HPLP II) scale score (r = 0·11*), nutrition (r = 0·14**), physical activity (r = −0·16**) and health responsibility (r = 0·12**).

Conclusions.  Young, employed adult men were most at risk for having metabolic syndrome. It would seem that it is essential to control blood pressure and abdominal obesity to prevent metabolic syndrome; however, accomplishing this by trying to improve the level of physical activity does not seem to be a viable solution. Moreover, lifestyle modification has been proposed using gender-, age- and location-specific interventions. Nurses should not only strive to investigate the factors that lead to the adoption of unhealthy lifestyle behaviours by using the system approach, but also to empower people to participate in designing health programmes.

Relevance to clinical practice.  By understanding the components of metabolic syndrome, it will be possible to develop more effective strategies for its prevention. Based on this, it will help if healthcare providers focus their efforts on the specific components of metabolic syndrome and on the individuals who are at the greatest risk of developing metabolic syndrome.