Purpose: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a strong risk factor for type 2 diabetes and atherosclerotic cardiovascular diseases, and its pathological process starts from childhood and adolescence. Childhood and adolescence is an important developmental stage where gender-specific body image, self-identity, and health habits are formed. This study examined gender-specific factors associated with MetS among Korean children and adolescents.

Method: Using data from the Korea National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 5th and 6th waves (2010-2015), a total of 4,149 respondents (representing 4.6 million children and adolescents aged 10 to 18) were evaluated. MetS was defined based on the guidelines of the modified NCEP ATP III. Data were analyzed with descriptive statistics, independent t-test, χ2 -test and univariate logistic regression analysis (p < .05).

Results: The prevalence rate of MetS in Korean children and adolescents was 4.17% (4.88% in boys and 3.42% in girls). The prevalence of abdominal obesity was significantly higher in girls (8.96% vs. 11.17%), and the prevalence of low HDL-C and elevated BP were significantly higher in boys (14.13% vs. 9.65%; 29.15% vs. 25.65%). For boys, increasing age, BMI, Waist-to-Height ratio (WHtR), one meal per day, weight loss effort, and perceived body shape as “fat” were significantly associated with MetS. For girls, BMI, WHtR, familial medical history of low HDL-C, weight loss effort, and perceived body shape as “average” and “fat” were significantly associated with MetS. Risk factors unique to boys were age and frequency of meal per day, whereas familial medical history of low HDL-C and perceived body shape as “average” were specific to girls.

Conclusion: We found gender differences in the prevalence of MetS and its associated risk factors in Korean children and adolescents. Gender-difference should be considered in an effort to address MetS and risk factors in this population.


J. Choi: None. T. Yoon: None. M. Yu: None. D. Kang: None. S.E. Choi: None.


National Research Foundation of Korea (2017R1C1B5076837)

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