Objectives: To determine optimum measurements for abdominal obesity and to assess the prevalence and determinants of metabolic syndrome in Qatar. Design: National health survey. Setting: Qatar National STEPwise Survey conducted by the Supreme Council of Health during 2012. Participants: 2496 Qatari citizens aged 1864 representative of the general population. Primary and secondary outcome measures: Measure of obesity (body mass index, waist circumference or waist-to-height ratio) that best identified the presence of at least 2 other factors of metabolic syndrome; cut-off values of waist circumference; frequency of metabolic syndrome. Results: Waist circumference ≥102 for men and ≥94 cm for women was the best predictor of the presence of other determinants of metabolic syndrome (raised blood pressure, fasting blood glucose, triglycerides and reduced high-density lipoprotein cholesterol). Using these values, we identified 28% of Qataris with metabolic syndrome, which is considerably lower than the estimate of 37% calculated using the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria. Restricting the analysis to participants without known elevated blood pressure, elevated blood sugar or diabetes 16.5% would be classified as having metabolic syndrome. In a multivariable logistic regression analysis, the prevalence of metabolic syndrome increased steadily with age (OR=3.40 (95% CI 2.02 to 5.74), OR=5.66 (3.65 to 8.78), OR=10.2 (5.98 to 17.6) and OR=18.2 (7.01 to 47.5) for those in the age group 3039', 4049', 5059', 6064' vs 1829'; p<0.0001), decreased with increasing educational attainment (OR=0.61 (0.39 to 0.96) for those who attained secondary school or more' compared with less than primary school'; p=0.03) and exercise (OR=0.60 (0.42 to 0.86) for those exercising ≥3000 vs <600 MET-min/week; p=0.006) but was not associated with smoking or diet. Conclusions: Waist circumference was the best measure of obesity to combine with other variables to construct a country-specific definition of metabolic syndrome in Qatar. Approximately 28% of adult Qatari citizens satisfy the criteria for metabolic syndrome.
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