Horm Metab Res 2009; 41(2): 79-85
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1104603

© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

Classifying Africans with the Metabolic Syndrome

A. E. Schutte 1 , R. Schutte 1 , H. W. Huisman 1 , J. M. van Rooyen 1 , L. Malan 1 , A. Olckers 2 , N. T. Malan 1
  • 1School for Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences, North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus),Potchefstroom, South Africa
  • 2Centre for Genome Research (CGR), North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus), South Africa and DNAbiotec (Pty) Ltd., Potchefstroom, South Africa
Further Information

Publication History

received 13.08.2008

accepted 03.11.2008

Publication Date:
22 December 2008 (online)


This study was aimed to compare prevalences of the metabolic syndrome in Africans using five definitions as proposed by the World Health Organization (WHO), the European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance (EGIR), the National Cholesterol Education Program Expert Panel on Detection, Evaluation, and Treatment of High Blood Cholesterol in Adults [Adult Treatment Panel (ATPIII)], the American College of Endocrinology (ACE), and the International Diabetes Federation (IDF). A further objective was to identify difficulties in classifying Africans with the metabolic syndrome and to suggest specific areas where criteria adjustments for identifying Africans should be made. A case-case-control cross-sectional study involved 102 urban African women. Except for microalbumin data, all data necessary for classification of the metabolic syndrome were collected, including fasting and 2-h glucose and insulin, anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, and lipids. The metabolic syndrome prevalences ranged from 5.4% (EGIR), 15.7% (ATPIII), ≥19.4% (WHO), 24.8% (IDF) to 25.5% (ACE). Only 2.9% (n=3) had a triglyceride level ≥1.69 mmol/l, but 58.8% (n=60) had a HDL-level <1.29 mmol/l, whereas 27% (n=26) were insulin resistant, 22.3% (n=21), had a blood pressure ≥140/90 or used hypertension medication. It seems as if the classification of hypertension, insulin resistance and hyperglycemia might have been adequate, but body composition and dyslipidemia criteria need adjustment for Africans. Since neither definition seems completely suitable for Africans it is suggested that clinical emphasis should rather be on treating any specific cardiovascular disease risk factor that is present, than on diagnosing a patient with the metabolic syndrome.



Prof. A. E. Schutte

School for Physiology, Nutrition and Consumer Sciences

North-West University (Potchefstroom Campus)

Private Bag X6001


2520 South Africa

Phone: +27/18/299 24 44

Fax: +27/18/299 24 33

Email: [email protected]