MetS in Americans

Metabolic Syndrome in the US 

  • Approximately 34% of adults meet the criteria for metabolic syndrome (MS) as compared to 29% about 10 years ago.1  The prevalence may increase to 40% if the new universal definition with lower waist circumference (WC) cut points are used.2
  • Americans have a high prevalence of obesity (34%) and abdominal obesity (53-75%). Therefore the new unified definition does not have any major impact on the prevalence of MS in the US. For example the prevalence increases from 35% to 40%.2
  • The number of Americans with MS increased from 50 million in 1990 to approximately 68 million by 2006. The rise in MS in the US was primarily due to escalating rates of abdominal obesity and high blood pressure.
  • The prevalence varies by ethnicity. Despite higher rates of obesity, blacks (25%) have lower rates of MS compared to whites (37%).  The highest prevalence is seen in Mexican-American men (37%) and women (43%).1
  • The prevalence increases with age and dramatically with obesity.3 The rate is one in 2 for those who are overweight or over the age of 60. 3  Prevalence of MS is 26% among younger individuals (<65 years of age) vs 55% among those >65 years of age.4
  • Obesity is the foremost determinant of MS. The prevalence increases from 7% in normal weight people to 65% in obese.3  Although US is the most obese nation, only 34% are obese. The prevalence of metabolic syndrome in the US by gender, ethnicity, age, and body weight is given in the Table 111 A.3


Table 111 A-The Prevalence of MS in the US by Gender, Ethnicity, Age and Body Weight



Age group

Body Weight

Total 34% Whites 37% 20-39 years 20 Normal weight 7%
Male 35% Blacks 25% 40-59 41 Overweight 30%
Female 33% Hispanics 33% >60 years 52 Obese 65%
  • These findings underscore the importance of a healthy lifestyle, which includes maintaining a normal weight through a balanced diet and regular exercise.1 


1. Mozumdar A, Liguori G. Persistent Increase of Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome Among US adults: NHANES III to NHANES 1999-2006. Diabetes Care. Oct 1 2010.

2. Alberti KG, Eckel RH, Grundy SM, et al. Harmonizing the metabolic syndrome: a joint interim statement of the International Diabetes Federation Task Force on Epidemiology and Prevention; National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute; American Heart Association; World Heart Federation; International Atherosclerosis Society; and international association for the Study of Obesity. Circulation. Oct 20 2009;120(16):1640-1645.

3. Ervin RB. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome among adults 20 years of age and over, by sex, age, race and ethnicity, and body mass index: United States, 2003-2006. Natl Health Stat Report. May 5 2009(13):1-7.

4. Kuk JL, Ardern CI. Age and sex differences in the clustering of metabolic syndrome factors: association with mortality risk. Diabetes Care. Nov 2010;33(11):2457-2461.

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