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Diabet Med. 2012 Sep;29(9):1159-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1464-5491.2012.03616.x.

Heterogeneity in sex differences in the metabolic syndrome in Dutch white, Surinamese African and South Asian populations.

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1
Department of Public Health, Academic Medical Centre, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands. c.o.agyemang@amc.uva.nl

Abstract

AIM:

To determine whether sex differences in the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome and its components differ among different ethnic groups.

METHODS:

A random sample of non-institutionalized adults aged 35-60 years in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (white Dutch men n = 242, women n = 244; African-Surinamese men n = 193, women n = 399, Hindustani-Surinamese men n = 149, women n = 186). The metabolic syndrome was defined according to the International Diabetes Federation criteria.

RESULTS:

In all ethnic groups, the prevalence of central obesity and reduced HDL cholesterol were higher in women than in men, but the prevalence of elevated blood pressure, fasting glucose and triglycerides were lower in women than in men. However, the magnitude of the differences varied. The sex differences in the prevalence of central obesity and reduced HDL cholesterol were particularly larger in ethnic minority groups, especially in African-Surinamese than in white Dutch. After adjustment for education, smoking, alcohol intake and physical activity, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was lower in white Dutch women than in white Dutch men (adjusted prevalence ratio 0.70, 95% CI 0.52-0.94). By contrast, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome was higher in African-Surinamese women than in African-Surinamese men (adjusted prevalence ratio 1.56, 95% CI 1.12-2.18). Among Hindustani-Surinamese, men and women had a similar prevalence of the metabolic syndrome (adjusted prevalence ratio 1.00, 95% CI 0.76-1.31).

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings suggest different patterns in sex differences in the metabolic syndrome among the ethnic groups. The relatively high prevalence of central obesity in African-Surinamese women may underlie their higher prevalence of the metabolic syndrome. Strategies to improve metabolic profiles among African-Surinamese and white Dutch people need to take sex differences into account.

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