Relationship of sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and diet habits with metabolic syndrome (MetS) among three ethnic groups of the Malaysian population

Saleem Perwaiz Iqbal, Amutha Ramadas, Quek Kia Fatt, Ho Loon Shin, Wong Yin Onn, Khalid Abdul Kadir

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16 Citations (Scopus)


Objectives Literature shows a high prevalence of MetS among Malaysians, varying across the major ethnicities. Since sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle factors and diet habits of such communities have been reported to be diverse, the objective of this study was to investigate the association of various sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle factors and diet habits with MetS overall, as well as with the three major ethnic communities in Malaysia, specifically. Materials and methods We conducted a cross-sectional study among 481 Malaysians of ages 18 years and above living in the state of Johor, Malaysia. Information on demographics, lifestyle and diet habits were collected using a structured questionnaire. Harmonized criteria were used to assess the status of MetS. Multiple logistic regression was employed to determine any associations between sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and dietary behaviours with MetS. Results MetS was found among 32.2% of the respondents and was more prevalent among the Indians (51.9%), followed by the Malays (36.7%) and the Chinese (20.2%). Overall, increasing age (AOR = 2.44[95%CI = 1.27–4.70] at 40–49 years vs. AOR = 4.14[95%CI = 1.97–8.69] at 60 years and above) and Indian ethnicity (AOR = 1.95[95%CI = 1.12–3.38)] increased the odds of MetS, while higher education (AOR = 0.44[95%CI = 0.20–0.94] decreased the odds of MetS in this population. Quick finishing of meals (AOR = 2.17[95%CI = 1.02–4.60]) and low physical activity (AOR = 4.76[95%CI = 1.49–15.26]) were associated with increased odds of MetS among the Malays and the Chinese, respectively. Conclusion The population of Johor depicts a diverse lifestyle and diet behaviour, and some of these factors are associated with MetS in certain ethnic groups. In the light of such differences, ethnic specific measures would be needed to reduce the prevalence of MetS among those in this population.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0224054
Number of pages16
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2020

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