To assess whether body mass index (BMI), blood pressure, and socioeconomic status in adolescence and early adulthood are independently related to the metabolic syndrome in adult women and men.
We based our work on a Swedish prospective cohort study that recruited participants at 16 years of age (N = 1083 at age 16; 403 women and 429 men at age 43, 78% of those still alive [N = 1071]). Blood pressure (BP) and BMI were assessed when participants were 16 and 21 years of age. At age 43, the metabolic syndrome was defined according to the International Diabetes Federation guidelines. Socioeconomic status (SES) was operationalized by the participant (age 21 and 43) or parent's (age 16) occupational status. Information on smoking, snuff, alcohol, and inactivity was collected at age 43.
In women, SES at age 16 was independently related to the risk of metabolic syndrome. In women and men, BMI at age 16 was related to metabolic syndrome but was attenuated by BMI at age 21, which was significant in the final model; in women systolic BP displayed similar patterns.
Our data seem to suggest two independent life course pathways for metabolic syndrome: one metabolic pathway for both women and men operating through BMI (for women also systolic BP) in adolescence and early adulthood, and for women, an apparently independent pathway through adolescent socioeconomic disadvantage.