Metabolic Syndrome (MS) is increasing in developing countries. Different definitions of MS lead to discrepancies in prevalence estimates and applicability. We assessed the prevalence of MS as defined by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF), modified National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Plan III (Modified NCEP) and Joint Interim Statement (JIS); compared the diagnostic performance and association of these definitions of MS with pre-diabetes, type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk.
A total of 714 randomly selected subjects from Northeastern Brazil were investigated in a cross-sectional study. Sociodemographic, anthropometric, and clinical data were recorded. Diagnostic test performance measures assessed the ability of the different MS definitions to identify those with pre-diabetes, T2DM and increased CVD risk.
The adjusted prevalence of MS was 36.1% applying the JIS criteria, 35.1% the IDF and 29.5% Modified NCEP. Women were more affected by MS according to all definitions. MS was significantly associated with pre-diabetes, T2DM and CVD risk following the three definitions. However, the JIS and IDF definitions showed higher sensitivity than the Modified NCEP to identify pre-diabetes, T2DM and CVD risk. The odds ratios for those conditions were not significantly different when comparing the definitions.
MS is highly prevalent in Brazil, particularly among those with pre-diabetes, T2DM, and high CVD risk. The IDF and JIS criteria may be better suited in the Brazilian population to identify pre-diabetes, T2DM and CVD risk. This may also signify the importance of the assessment of MS in clinical practice.

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