Metabolic syndrome in black people of the African diaspora: The paradox of current classification, definition and criteria Conference

Gaillard, T, Schuster, D, Osei, K. (2009). Metabolic syndrome in black people of the African diaspora: The paradox of current classification, definition and criteria . ETHNICITY & DISEASE, 19(2 SUPPL.2),

cited authors

  • Gaillard, T; Schuster, D; Osei, K



  • According to the third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey, African Americans have a lower prevalence of metabolic syndrome than do Whites. Recent reports in Blacks in other regions have confirmed these observations, but the rates vary. This lower rate of metabolic syndrome in Blacks can be partly ascribed to the lower prevalent rates of some major components of metabolic syndrome, namely serum triglyceride and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels in Blacks. This is in contrast with the higher prevalence of obesity (waist circumference) and blood pressure that meet National Cholesterol Education Program criteria in Blacks. Despite these seemingly favorable lipids and lipoprotein profiles, Blacks continue to have higher cardiovascular disease (CVD) mortality and morbidity, even in the absence of diabetes, than do Whites. Insulin resistance is more prevalent in Blacks than in Whites. However, the relationships among insulin resistance and CVD risk factors such as hypertension, high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, and triglycerides are weak in contrast with Whites. The paradox of more favorable lipid profile and conversely the higher rates of unfavorable blood pressure in Blacks calls into question the validity of the current criteria for metabolic syndrome in Blacks. Thus, it can be argued that each of the components of the metabolic syndrome carry different CVD risk factors in Blacks. The greater CVD mortality and morbidity in Blacks appear to be multifactorial. With the emerging epidemic of noncommunicable diseases, chronic kidney diseases due to both diabetes and hypertension have emerged as major CVD risks that are associated with increasing mortality and morbidity in Blacks. We need to emphasize specific components of metabolic syndrome, specifically blood pressure and chronic kidney disease, that carry higher CVD risk with associated greater morbidity and mortality for primary prevention of CVD and type 2 diabetes in Blacks. To this end, we believe the higher prevalence of hypertension and chronic kidney diseases in Blacks suggests that the current classification, definition, and criteria for metabolic syndrome in Blacks should be reconsidered.

publication date

  • December 1, 2009

published in


  • 19


  • 2 SUPPL.2