The metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a constellation of cardiometabolic risk factors that identifies people at increased risk for type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. While the global prevalence is 20%–25% of the adult population, the prevalence varies across different racial/ethnic populations. In this narrative review, evidence is reviewed regarding the assessment, management and prevention of MetS among people of different racial/ethnic groups. The most popular definition of MetS considers race/ethnicity for assessing waist circumference given differences in visceral adipose tissue and cardiometabolic risk. However, defining race/ethnicity may pose challenges in the clinical setting. Despite 80% of the world’s population being of non-European descent, the majority of research on management and prevention has focused on European-derived populations. In these studies, lifestyle management has proven an effective therapy for reversal of MetS, and randomised studies are underway in specific racial/ethnic groups. Given the large number of people at risk for MetS, prevention efforts need to focus at community and population levels. Communitybased interventions have begun to show promise, and efforts to improve lifestyle behaviours through alterations in the built environment may be another avenue. However, careful consideration needs to be given to take into account the unique cultural context of the target race/ethnic group.
- Metabolic syndrome