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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 18-64 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 '30-39', '40-49', '50-59', '60-64' vs '18-29'; p

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, which increased significantly with age. Education and physical activity were inversely associated with this syndrome.

Publisher's Statement

Originally published in BMJ Open. Licensed under CC-BY 4.0. https://doi.org/10.1136/bmjopen-2015-009514

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