Prevalence of the Metabolic Syndrome among US Workers

  1. Tainya Clarke, MS, MPH1
  1. 1Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, Miami, Florida
  2. 2 GRECC- Miami Veterans Affairs Healthcare System, Miami, FL and
  3. 3Center for Child and Adolescent Health Policy Mass General Hospital for Children, Boston, MA; and
  4. 4Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina


Objective: Differences in the prevalence of cardiovascular disease and its risk factors among occupational groups have been found in several studies. Certain types of workers (such as shift workers) may have a greater risk for metabolic syndrome, a precursor of CVD. The objective of this study was to assess the differences in prevalence and risk of metabolic syndrome among occupational groups using nationally representative data of US workers.

Research design and methods: Data from 8,457 employed participants (representing 131 million US adults) of the 1999-2004 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey were used. Un-adjusted and age-adjusted prevalence, and simple and multiple logistic regression analyses were conducted, adjusting for several potential confounders (body mass index, alcohol drinking, smoking, physical activity, and socio-demographics), and survey design.

Results: Twenty percent of workers met criteria for the metabolic syndrome, with “food preparation and food service workers,” and “farm managers, operators and supervisors” having the greatest age-adjusted prevalence (29.6-31.1%), and “writers, artists, entertainers, athletes,” and “engineers, architects, and scientists” the lowest (8.5-9.2%). In logistic regression analyses “transportation/material moving workers” had significantly greater odds of meeting the criteria for metabolic syndrome relative to executive, administrative, managerial professionals (odds ratio=1.70 [95% confidence interval 1.49-2.52]).

Conclusions: There is variability in the prevalence of metabolic syndrome by occupational status, with “transportation and moving workers” at greatest risk for metabolic syndrome. Workplace health promotion programs addressing risk factors for metabolic syndrome that target workers in occupations with the greatest odds may be an efficient way to reach at-risk populations.


    • Received April 14, 2010.
    • Accepted June 18, 2010.

    This Article

    1. Diabetes Care
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