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Diabetol Metab Syndr. 2013 Jan 12;5(1):2. doi: 10.1186/1758-5996-5-2.

Metabolic syndrome among students attending a historically black college: prevalence and gender differences.

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Division of Food and Animal Science, College of Agriculture, Food Science and Sustainable Systems, Kentucky State University, Frankfort, KY, 40601, USA.



There are limited data on the prevalence rate of Metabolic Syndrome (MetS) among college students attending any Historically Black College and University (HBCU), which are mostly attended by young African Americans (AA). We report the prevalence and gender differences in the components of MetS in a sample population from an HBCU campus.


Three hundred and seventy six (218 females and 158 males) first year college students (average age 19.8 years), attending Kentucky State University, Frankfort with no prior diagnosis of illness participated in the cross sectional study. Anthropometric screenings included measurement of height, weight, waist circumference and body mass index (BMI). The clinical screenings included measurement of blood pressure and determination of fasting lipid and glucose concentrations. The National Cholesterol Education Program's Adult Treatment Panel III (NCEP ATP III) and International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definitions for MetS were applied.


Analysis of variance (ANOVA) scores on the Means procedure were used to examine differences between genders for all anthropometric, clinical and biochemical parameters. Fisher's exact chi-square tests were used to analyze the prevalence of MetS criteria per gender, the number of MetS criteria per BMI category and the prevalence of MetS criteria. Significance was set at p ≤ 0.05 for all tests.


Prevalence rates for MetS criteria varied depending on the definition used. According to the NCEP ATP definition, 31.4% of the sample population had at least 1 criterion for MetS, while 20.7% had 2 criteria. When IDF definition was applied, 21.3% sample population had 1 criterion and 17.5% had at least two criteria. Prevalence was highest for low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (37.3%) and elevated fasting glucose (22.1%). On the basis of the NCEP ATP and IDF definitions, overall prevalence of MetS in the total sample was 12%, and 9.3% respectively.


HBCUs offer a unique opportunity to monitor and address the risk factors of MetS in a predominantly young AA population. There is a higher prevalence of MetS in this study population than any other reports on college students.

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