Metabolic risks among college students: Prevalence and gender differences

Terry T.K. Huang, Aaron Shimel, Rebecca E. Lee, William Delancey, Myra L. Strother

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

45 Scopus citations


Background: Little is known about the rate of metabolic dysfunction and gender differences in late adolescence or early adulthood. We report here the prevalence of and gender differences in components of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) in a college sample. Methods: Three hundred students (2/3 female) with no prior diagnosis of illness from the University of Kansas, Lawrence, participated in a cross-sectional measurement of weight, height, fasting blood, and 2-hour oral glucose tolerance test. Prevalence of metabolic risks was determined using the Adult Treatment Panel (ATP) III, World Health Organization or International Diabetes Federation criteria. Gender differences in both continuous and dichotomous metabolic variables were tested. Results: The prevalence of MetS was low, but the rate of having at least one abnormal component ranged from 26% to 40%. Different criteria identified different individuals with the MetS. Prevalence was high for low levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (24%), impaired fasting glucose (9%), and hypertriglyceridemia (9%). Fasting insulin was useful in capturing at-risk individuals in addition to ATP-III criteria. Males were more obese, hypertensive, and hypertriglyceridemic than females, but all 9 cases of impaired glucose tolerance were female. Conclusions: The college age and setting are a unique opportunity to monitor and intervene on early risk factors of chronic disease. Undiagnosed metabolic dysfunction is high and problematic in this age group. Unique gender differences in glucose metabolism warrant further research and should be considered in the design of intervention strategies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)365-371
Number of pages7
JournalMetabolic Syndrome and Related Disorders
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Internal Medicine
  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism


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