Prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome in Taiwan

Lee Ching Hwang, Chyi Huey Bai, Chien Jen Chen

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273 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Purpose: Obesity and metabolic syndrome (MS) are major risk factors for the development of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases (CVD). This study estimated the prevalence of obesity and MS in Taiwan. Methods: Data from a nationwide cross-sectional population-based survey of 5936 participants (2815 men, 3121 women; age range, 20-79.9 years) in 2002 were analyzed. Obesity was defined as a body mass index (BMI) ≥ 27 kg/m2 according to the criteria of the Department of Health in Taiwan. The prevalence of MS was estimated using the definitions of the modified Adult Treatment Panel III (ATP III), the International Diabetes Federation for Chinese (MS-IDF(C)) and the MS criteria for Taiwanese (MS-TW). Results: The overall prevalence of obesity in men was significantly greater than in women (19.2% vs. 13.4%, p <0.0001). The age-standardized prevalence of MS was 15.7% by the modified ATh III criteria, 14.3% by the MS-IDF(C) criteria and 16.4% by the MS-TW criteria. The prevalence of obesity and MS significantly increased with age (trend test, p <0.0001) in men and women. The risk of MS and its components increased significantly with BMI, and showed a marked increase with BMI ≥ 24kg/m2. MS as classified by the MS-IDF(C) criteria failed to identify subjects at high risk of CVD who did not have abdominal obesity, including those with hypertension, type 2 diabetes and dyslipidemia. Conclusion: This study found a high prevalence of obesity and MS in Taiwan. The definitions of MS by the modified ATh III and MS-TW criteria were better able to detect high CVD risk than the MS-IDF(C) criteria.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)626-635
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of the Formosan Medical Association = Taiwan yi zhi
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2006
Externally publishedYes


  • Body mass index
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Obesity
  • Prevalence

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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