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Prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and abnormal lipid levels among Korean adolescents


  • Conflict of interest: The authors have no competing interests to declare.

Correspondence: Dr Seung Ha Park, Department of Internal Medicine, Inje University Haeundae Paik-Hospital, Inje University College of Medicine, #1435, Jwa-dong, Haeundae-gu, Busan 612-030, South Korea. Fax: (+82) 51 797 3009; email:



Early identification of the metabolic syndrome (MS) and abnormal lipid levels with subsequent life-style intervention is vital to halt disease progression and safeguard the future health of children and adolescents.


Data from a representative sample of 1554 adolescents (821 boys and 733 girls) aged 10–19 from the 2007–2008 Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey was analysed. The MS was defined using the paediatric criteria of the International Diabetes Federation. Abnormal lipid levels were classified according to the guidelines of the American Academy of Pediatrics.


Approximately 13.7% of adolescents have a body mass index (BMI) between the 85th and 94th percentiles, and 8.4% have a BMI of ≥95th percentile. The prevalence of the MS was 2.3% among all the participants, 2.7% among boys and 2.1% among girls. The prevalence of the MS was 2.8% among overweight adolescents and 23.7% among obese adolescents. A low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level was the most common component for the MS. Nearly 20% of adolescents (21% of boys and 19% of girls) had at least one lipid abnormality. Approximately 32% of overweight adolescents and 50% of obese adolescents were candidates for therapeutic life-style counselling based on lipid levels.


The present study provides the most updated prevalence estimates of the MS in the Korean adolescent population and highlights the strong association of the MS with BMI. The prevalence of abnormal lipid levels in overweight and obese adolescents is high, illustrating the large burden of cardiovascular disease in the future Korean population.

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