According to a recent report in the Canadian Medical Association Journal (2011; 183 [15], E1127–34), 1 in 5 Canadians suffers from metabolic syndrome, a collection of risk factors associated with heart disease, stroke and other similar conditions. The wide-ranging study surveyed 1,800 Canadians, a cross-sectional sample representing 96% of the population aged 6–79. The study did not include people living in institutions, on reservations or in remote areas, or full-time members of the armed forces.

According to the findings, 19.1% of the population presented with metabolic syndrome. Data also showed that 35% had abdominal obesity, which was more prevalent in women (40%) than men (29.1%). Adults aged 70–79 had the highest rates of abdominal obesity (52.7%). Other risk factors tested included elevated blood pressure, elevated fasting glucose, low HDL cholesterol and hypertriglyceridemia.

“The public health implications of these results are substantial,” warned the report’s authors. “People at increased risk were those in households with lower education and income levels. The burden of abdominal obesity, low HDL cholesterol and hypertriglyceridemia among young people is of concern, especially because the risk of cardiovascular disease increases with age. Public health initiatives to improve dietary habits and physical activity are needed to address those health issues.”

The report can be downloaded in its entirety here: www.cmaj.ca/content/183/15/E1127.full.pdf+html.