Research news from the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University

Metabolic Syndrome Found in College Students

A recent study of 163 students in college found that a startling 27% were overweight, 6% were pre-diabetic, and 10% had either high total cholesterol or low HDL ("good") cholesterol. This is among the first studies of college-aged students on weight and a condition known as the metabolic syndrome. The study was conducted by Terry T.K. Huang, PhD, research assistant professor at the Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy at Tufts University, and a group of colleagues.

"These symptoms reveal that many young adults are at serious risk of developing health problems," said Huang. "Furthermore, these findings are particularly alarming given that our study looked at a predominantly white, seemingly low-risk, group of students, and indicate that early screening, even in the absence of disease, is important."

Huang and a team of researchers investigated the association between being overweight and exhibiting signs of the metabolic syndrome in the study group. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the metabolic syndrome currently plagues more than 20% of adults in the United States. The metabolic syndrome, also called insulin resistance syndrome, puts people at increased risk of type II diabetes and heart disease.

Overweight students were nearly three times more likely to exhibit a component of the metabolic syndrome than students of normal weight. Overweight students had higher hip and waist circumferences, higher blood pressure, higher insulin levels, and higher total and LDL ("bad") cholesterol levels--each of which indicate poor health and is a sign of problems to come.

Experts note that the obesity epidemic has created a pressing need for a better understanding of the problems associated with being overweight in young adults. A second study, also authored by Huang, found that one of the challenges in understanding obesity in children and young

Contact: Siobhan Gallagher
Tufts University

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