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Urban, semi-urban and rural difference in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome in Shaanxi province, northwestern China: a population-based survey

Shaoyong Xu1, Jie Ming1, Chao Yang2, Bin Gao1, Yi Wan3, Ying Xing1, Lei Zhang4 and Qiuhe Ji1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Endocrinology, Xijing Hospital, Fourth Military Medical University, 169 Changle Road West, Xi’an 710032, China

2 Department of Oncology, Xiangyang Central Hospital, Affiliated Hospital of Hubei University of Arts and Science, Xiangyang 441021, China

3 Department of Health Statistics, School of Preventive Medicine, Fourth Military Medical University, Xi’an 710032, China

4 Institute of Molecular & Experimental Medicine, School of Medicine, Cardiff University, Health Park, Cardiff CF14 4XN, United Kingdom

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BMC Public Health 2014, 14:104  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-14-104

Published: 1 February 2014



The ongoing rapid urbanization in China offers rural population opportunities not only for economic improvement but also for substantial health risks. Albeit some researches related to rural-urban difference of metabolic syndrome (MS), there lacks studies focusing on this point in undeveloped provinces in China.


The survey, as part of China National Diabetes and Metabolic disorders Study, was conducted in Shaanxi province from June 2007 to May 2008. A total of 3,297 adults aged 20 years or older were included, of which 1,467 individuals were from urban areas, 839 from semi-urban areas, and 890 from rural areas. The MS was defined according to the 2009 Joint Interim Statement.


The age-standardized prevalence of MS was significant higher in rural residents than in urban counterparts (29.0% vs. 25.9%, P = 0.017), in particular among females (30.2% vs. 24.4%, P = 0.003). After adjusted for the listed risk factors, rural residents had a 27.6% increased risk of having MS than urban residents. With respect to MS components, the crude prevalence of raised fasting glucose and raised blood pressure was significantly greater in rural than in urban participants. However, no significant difference in the prevalence of MS was observed between semi-urban and urban participants.


Rural residents in Shaanxi province, northwest China, were at increased risk of MS, which could be partly explained by sociodemographic and lifestyle differences. In addition, the gap between urban and semi-urban areas seemed to be minimized in related to MS prevalence. Much more attention should be paid to and intervention strategies were needed to address the rural-urban disparities in China.

Metabolic syndrome; Prevalence; Rural; Urban; China; Cross-sectional survey