Purpose of review
The prevalence of obesity is on the increase, and consequently metabolic syndrome is also becoming a serious health problem in children and adolescents all over the world. This review attempts to summarize the recent literature on metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents.
To date, a standard definition of metabolic syndrome for the pediatric population is not available. Recently, the International Diabetes Federation has proposed a new set of criteria to define metabolic syndrome in children and adolescents aged 6–16 years. The relationships between obesity, insulin resistance and metabolic syndrome may be explained by the pattern of lipid partitioning. Fatty liver plays a central role in the insulin-resistant state in obese adolescents. Although insulin resistance has been proposed as the central factor leading to the abnormalities observed in metabolic syndrome, most definitions of metabolic syndrome use impaired fasting glucose as a marker. Nutrition impairment during both prenatal and early postnatal life can cause metabolic disturbances leading to insulin-resistance, type 2 diabetes, hypertension and cardiovascular disease.
Metabolic syndrome prevalence in children and adolescents is on the increase. Therefore, the emphasis in all studies and programs related to metabolic syndrome should be focused on prevention, early detection of metabolic risk factors and interventions that will have a significant impact on future adult health.