, Volume 57, Issue 5, pp 940-949

Validation of metabolic syndrome score by confirmatory factor analysis in children and adults and prediction of cardiometabolic outcomes in adults

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We validated the metabolic syndrome (MetS) score by confirmatory factor analysis (CFA) in children, middle-aged men, and older women and men and by investigating the relationships of the MetS score to incident type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, and cardiovascular and overall death in middle-aged men.


We assessed the core features of MetS, calculated the MetS score using z scores for waist circumference, insulin, glucose, triacylglycerols, HDL-cholesterol and blood pressure, and carried out CFA to investigate whether MetS represents a single entity in population samples of 491 children, 1,900 middle-aged men, 614 older women and 555 older men from Finland. We also followed-up incident type 2 diabetes for 11 years and other outcomes for 17–18 years in middle-aged men.


We carried out second-order CFAs in which the MetS was represented by a second-order latent variable underlying four latent variables characterised by abdominal obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia and raised blood pressure in different age groups. These second-order factors and factors derived from first-order CFA using previously proposed models were strongly associated with a composite MetS score in all age groups (r = 0.84–0.94) and similarly predicted type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular outcomes and mortality in middle-aged men. The risk of type 2 diabetes, myocardial infarction, cardiovascular death and overall death increased 3.67-, 1.38-, 1.56- and 1.44-fold, respectively, for a 1 SD increase in the MetS score.


The MetS can be described as a single entity in all age groups. The MetS score is a valid tool for research evaluating cardiometabolic risk in different age groups. Further research is needed to define cut-off points for risk estimation in clinical practice.