Methods A search was conducted on PubMed and CINAHL using the term metabolic syndrome and the country name of each GCC Member State. The search was limited to studies published in the English language. The metabolic syndrome was defined according to the Third Adult Treatment Panel (ATPIII) of the National Cholesterol Education Program (NCEP) and/or International Diabetes Federation (IDF) definitions. The methodological quality of each study was evaluated based on four criteria: a national-level population sample; equal gender representation; robustness of the sample size; an explicit sampling methodology.
Results PubMed, CINAHL and reference list searches identified nine relevant studies. Only four were considered high quality and found that, for men, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome ranged from 20.7% to 37.2% (ATPIII definition) and from 29.6% to 36.2% (IDF definition); and, for women, from 32.1% to 42.7% (ATPIII definition) and from 36.1% to 45.9% (IDF definition).
Conclusions Overall, the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome in the GCC states is some 10-15% higher than in most developed countries, with generally higher prevalence rates for women. Preventive strategies will require identifying socio-demographic and environmental correlates (particularly those influencing women) and addressing modifiable risk behaviours, including lack of physical activity, prolonged sitting time and dietary intake.