The association of anthropometric indices in adolescence with the occurrence of the metabolic syndrome in early adulthood: Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study (TLGS)


Address for correspondence: Dr F Hosseinpanah, Obesity Research Center, Research Institute for Endocrine Sciences, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Science, PO Box 19395-476, Tehran, Iran. E-mail:


What is already known about this subject

  • Little is known about the predictive ability of anthropometric indices in adolescence for prediction of early adulthood metabolic syndrome (MetS).
  • There are controversies about the predictive power of body mass index (BMI) vs. waist circumference (WC) for prediction of MetS in late adolescence; some of the studies did not support the need to measure WC in mid-adolescence, in addition to BMI; on the other hand, some other studies proposed either similar predictability or superiority of WC to identify MetS in late adolescence.

What this study adds

  • This is the first study to evaluate the adolescent anthropometric indices in relation to early adulthood MetS incidence one decade later in the Middle East region.
  • There is an important sex difference regarding the incidence of MetS in Tehranian adolescents.
  • It is interesting to know that all anthropometric indices in the pubertal age group (11–14 years) had better predictive ability compared to late-pubertal (15–18 years) adolescents.
  • In addition, adolescent abdominal obesity surrogates, including WC and waist-to-height ratio, predicted adulthood MetS better than BMI in boys.
  • It seems that WC had an independent role beyond BMI in identification of adulthood MetS in Tehranian boys (11–18 years old).


Little is known about the predictive ability of anthropometric indices in adolescence for prediction of early adulthood metabolic syndrome (MetS).


Our purpose was to explore incidence of MetS and the optimal anthropometric indicator to predict early adulthood MetS in Tehranian adolescents.


Using data from the population-based, prospective, Tehran Lipid and Glucose Study, the utility of four anthropometric indices of adolescents in predicting early adulthood MetS (2009 Joint Scientific Statement definition) was examined among 1100 participants, aged 11–18 years, who were free of MetS at baseline, during a mean of 10.2 years of follow-up.


The cumulative incidence of MetS was 25.5% (95% confidence interval [CI]: 21.8–29.2%) for young men and 1.8% (95% CI: 0.6–3%) for young women. In boys, waist circumference (WC) had the highest odds ratio (OR) for the MetS risk, followed by waist-to-height ratio (WHtR). Adjusting body mass index (BMI) in addition to WC did not change the results in the 11–14-year age group (OR for WC: 2.28 [1.64–3.16] without BMI adjustment vs. 1.98 [1.05–3.73] with BMI adjustment), suggesting that WC may predict MetS risk beyond BMI. None of the anthropometric indices were found to have significant associations with subsequent MetS risk in girls.


Measures of abdominal obesity including WHtR and WC predicted early adulthood MetS better than BMI in Tehranian male adolescents (11–18 years old).