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Open Access Research article

Analysis of agreement among definitions of metabolic syndrome in nondiabetic Turkish adults: a methodological study

Ahmet Selcuk Can1* and Thomas P Bersot2

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Medicine, Istanbul Science University, Faculty of Medicine, Esentepe, Sisli, Istanbul, Turkey

2 Gladstone Institute of Cardiovascular Disease and the University of California, San Francisco, California, USA

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BMC Public Health 2007, 7:353  doi:10.1186/1471-2458-7-353

Published: 19 December 2007



We aimed to explore the agreement among World Health Organization (WHO), European Group for the Study of Insulin Resistance (EGIR), National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP), American College of Endocrinology (ACE), and International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definitions of the metabolic syndrome.


1568 subjects (532 men, 1036 women, mean age 45 and standard deviation (SD) 13 years) were evaluated in this cross-sectional, methodological study. Cardiometabolic risk factors were determined. Insulin sensitivity was calculated by HOMA-IR. Agreement among definitions was determined by the kappa statistic. ANOVA and post hoc Tukey's test were used to compare multiple groups.


The agreement between WHO and EGIR definitions was very good (kappa: 0.83). The agreement between NCEP, ACE, and IDF definitions was substantial to very good (kappa: 0.77–0.84). The agreement between NCEP or ACE or IDF and WHO or EGIR definitions was fair (kappa: 0.32–0.37). The age and sex adjusted prevalence of metabolic syndrome was 38% by NCEP, 42% by ACE and IDF, 20% by EGIR and 19% by WHO definition. The evaluated definitions were dichotomized after analysis of design, agreement and prevalence: insulin measurement requiring definitions (WHO and EGIR) and definitions not requiring insulin measurement (NCEP, ACE, IDF). One definition was selected from each set for comparison. WHO-defined subjects were more insulin resistant than subjects without the metabolic syndrome (mean and SD for log HOMA-IR, 0.53 ± 0.14 vs. 0.07 ± 0.23, respectively, p < 0.05) and had higher Framingham risk scores (mean and SD, 2.99 ± 4.64% vs. 1.10 ± 1.87%, respectively, p < 0.05). The additional subjects identified by IDF definition, but not by WHO definition also had more insulin resistance and higher Framingham risk scores than subjects without the metabolic syndrome (mean and SD, log HOMA-IR 0.18 ± 0.18 vs. 0.07 ± 0.23, p < 0.05 and Framingham risk score 2.93 ± 4.54% vs. 1.10 ± 1.87%, p < 0.05). The IDF-identified additional subjects had similar Framingham risk scores as WHO-identified subjects (p > 0.05), but lower log HOMA-IR values (p < 0.05).


The metabolic syndrome definitions that do not require measurement of insulin levels (NCEP, ACE and IDF) identify twice more patients with insulin resistance and increased Framingham risk scores and are more useful than the definitions that require measurement of insulin levels (WHO and EGIR).