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J Adolesc Health. 2008 Jun;42(6):543-8. doi: 10.1016/j.jadohealth.2007.11.136. Epub 2008 Mar 4.

Presence of the metabolic syndrome in obese adolescents predicts impaired glucose tolerance and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

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  • 1Division of Adolescent Medicine, Department of Pediatrics, Denver Health and Hospitals, University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, Denver, Colorado 80205, USA.



To evaluate whether the presence of metabolic syndrome (MS) in obese adolescents is associated with other comorbidities of obesity


A total of 85 obese teens (70% female and 30% male) with fasting insulin >25 microU/ml and family history of type 2 diabetes mellitus and/or acanthosis nigricans were studied. Mean age was 15.8 +/- 1.7 years and body mass index (BMI) was 39.3 +/- 6.6 kg/m(2). Of the subjects, 54% were Hispanic and 35% black, 5% white, 5% American Indian, and 1% Asian. Laboratory analysis included fasting lipids, glucose, gamma-glutamyl transpeptidase (GGT), and oral glucose tolerance testing. Additional liver transaminase levels were determined and liver ultrasound (US) was performed to evaluate the presence and severity of fatty liver.


All subjects met MS criteria for children for waist circumference, 49% for blood pressure, 54% for high-density lipoprotein, 54% for triglycerides, and 20% for impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance [IGT]). In all, 47 subjects had three or more MS criteria. BMI was no different between groups with and without MS. Subjects with three or more MS criteria were more likely to have IGT (p = .004), elevated alanine aminotransferase (p = .039), elevated GGT (p = .036), fatty liver on US (p < .001), and more severe fatty liver (p = .001).


Abnormal glucose regulation and evidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) were more common in subjects meeting three criteria for MS than in those meeting fewer criteria. The identification of MS provides value to the primary care provider. Those patients meeting criteria for MS should be evaluated for glucose intolerance and NAFLD.

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