Prevalence of Metabolic Syndrome and Its Individual Components Among Midwestern University Students

Najat Yahia, Carrie A. Brown, Ericka Snyder, Stephanie Cumper, Andrea Langolf, Chelsey Trayer, Chelsea Green

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Scopus citations


Michigan has the 17th highest adult obesity rate in the United States. Among college-aged adults between 18 and 25 years old, the rate of obesity was 11.6%. Obesity is a key precedent for the development of metabolic syndrome. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence of metabolic syndrome and its individual components among a sample of students at Central Michigan University. A cross-sectional survey was conducted among 462 students, aged 18–25 years, in Spring 2015 and Fall/Spring 2016 semesters. Students were recruited throughout the campus via flyers, in-class, and Blackboard announcements. Biochemical, anthropometric, and blood pressure measurements were taken for all students. Prevalence of metabolic syndrome was estimated based on the National Cholesterol Education Program’s Adult Treatment Panel III guidelines. Multivariable analysis was used to assess the prevalence of metabolic risk components. To explore the association between metabolic risk factors and lifestyle behaviors, students filled out a validated online questionnaire related to their eating habits, physical activity, and sleep patterns. Metabolic syndrome was not prevalent in our sample. However, about one-third of the students had at least one metabolic abnormality, and 6.0% had two metabolic abnormalities. The most common metabolic abnormalities were low HDL-cholesterol levels (22.0%) and high waist circumference (12.6%), and elevated serum triglyceride (5.8%). Adjusting for other factors, excess adiposity and high visceral fat scores were associated with increased risk of metabolic risk factors, whereas healthy lifestyle practices such as daily breakfast consumption, eating three meals a day, being active, and not smoking were associated with lower risks for MetS. Given the adverse consequences of undiagnosed metabolic abnormalities, efforts to identify and manage MetS among asymptomatic college students, particularly women, is essential and warrants further research.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)674-687
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Community Health
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 1 2017


  • Adiposity
  • Lifestyle practices
  • Metabolic risk factors
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • University students


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