Predicting Metabolic Syndrome in Obese Children and Adolescents: Look, Measure and Ask

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To verify in obese children whether or not the presence of i) high waist-to-height ratio (WHtR), ii) family history for type 2 diabetes (T2D) and iii) acanthosis nigricans (AN), singularly or together, might predict the occurrence of metabolic syndrome or prediabetes.


1,080 Italian obese children (567 females) were enrolled. Blood pressure, fasting plasma glucose, insulin, and lipids were measured, and oral glucose tolerance test (OGTT) was performed. The WHtR was calculated, family history for T2D was assessed, and the presence of AN was noticed. The odds ratios for showing metabolic syndrome and/or prediabetes according to the presence of these features were calculated.


The prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 29.2%. AN (OR1.81; p = 0.002) and WHtR higher than 0.60 (OR 2.24; p < 0.0001) were the clinical signs linked to higher risk for showing metabolic syndrome, and the odds raised significantly when these elements occurred simultaneously (OR 3.34; p < 0.0001). T2D family history (OR 2.36; p = 0.01) and WHtR higher than 0.60 (OR 2.32; p = 0.009) were the two features associated with increased odds of showing prediabetes.


Three simple actions, i.e., looking at the patient, asking about T2D family history, and measuring WHtR, may represent a powerful tool in the hands of pediatricians to identify obese children with high cardiovascular and metabolic risk.

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