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High Alt Med Biol. 2013 Mar;14(1):37-44. doi: 10.1089/ham.2012.1051.

Prevalence of metabolic syndrome and common metabolic components in high altitude farmers and herdsmen at 3700 m in Tibet.

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  • 1Section for Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Department of Community Medicine, Institute of Health and Society, University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway.



To estimate the prevalence of metabolic syndrome, its associated factors and components in 30-80-year-old Tibetans living at high altitude.


Multistage sampling of 692 participants. We used IDF criteria for estimation of the metabolic syndrome, and a questionnaire based on the WHO MONICA protocol.


The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 8.2% (Confidence interval (CI):6.1-10.2) while the common components were: fasting hyperglycemia 57.5% (53.8-61.1); abdominal obesity 46% (42.2-49.7); and high blood pressure 37% (33.4-40.5). Metabolic syndrome was significantly lower for males, those with higher education and physical activity >2000 Kcal/week. Self awareness, treatment and control were low for both diabetes and lipid abnormality.


The overall prevalence of metabolic syndrome in high altitude farmers and herdsmen in Tibet was lower compared to other high altitude natives, while its components (hyperglycemia, obesity, and high blood pressure) were higher than in other high altitude communities. Implications of the findings of high prevalence of smoking (among men), obesity, and hypertension and low rates of awareness, treatment, and control of the components of the metabolic syndrome among rural highlanders propels the need for health programs targeting risk factors.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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