Clinical usefulness of lipid ratios to identify men and women with metabolic syndrome: a cross-sectional study

Danijela Gasevic*, Jiri Frohlich, G. B. John Mancini, Scott A. Lear

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Waist circumference, a metabolic syndrome (MetSy) criterion, is not routinely measured in clinical practice making early identification of individuals with MetSy challenging. It has been argued that ratios of commonly measured parameters such as lipids and lipoproteins may be an acceptable alternative for identifying individuals with MetSy. The objective of our study was to explore clinical utility of lipid ratios to identify men and women with MetSy; and to explore the association between lipid ratios and the number of MetSy components.

Methods: Men and women (N = 797) of Aboriginal, Chinese, European, and South Asian origin (35-60 years), recruited across ranges of body mass index (BMI), with no diagnosed cardiovascular disease (CVD) or on medications to treat CVD risk factors were assessed for anthropometrics, family history of CVD, MetSy components (waist circumference, blood pressure, glucose, triglycerides (TG), high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol (HDL-C)), low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol (LDL-C), nonHDL-C, and health-related behaviours.

Results: Mean levels of lipid ratios significantly increased with increasing number of MetSy components in men and women (p <0.05). After adjustment for age, ethnicity, smoking, alcohol consumption, physical activity, family history of CVD and BMI, (and menopausal status in women), all lipid ratios were associated with the number of MetSy components in men and women (Poisson regression, p <0.001). Compared to the rest of the lipid ratios (ROC curve analysis), TG/HDL-C was best able to discriminate between individuals with and without MetSy (AUC = 0.869 (95% CI: 0.830, 0.908) men; AUC = 0.872 (95% CI: 0.832, 0.912) women). The discriminatory power of TC/HDL-C and nonHDL-C/HDL-C to identify individuals with MetSY was the same (for both ratios, AUC = 0.793 (95% CI: 0.744, 0.842) men; 0.818 (95% CI: 0.772, 0.864) women). Additionally, LDL-C/HDL-C was a good marker for women (AUC = 0.759 (95% CI: 0.706, 0.812)), but not for men (AUC = 0.689 (95% CI: 0.631, 0.748)). Based on a multiethnic sample, we identified TG/HDL-C cut-off values of 1.62 in men and 1.18 in women that were best able to discriminate between men and women with and without MetSY.

Conclusions: Our results indicate that TG/HDL-C is a superior marker to identify men and women with MetSy compared to TC/HDL-C, LDL-C/HDL-C, and nonHDL-C/HDL-C.

Original languageEnglish
Article number159
Number of pages10
JournalLipids in Health and Disease
Publication statusPublished - 10 Oct 2014


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Lipid ratios
  • Triglyceride-to-high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol
  • Low-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol-to-high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol
  • Non-high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol-to-high-density
  • lipoprotein-cholesterol
  • and total cholesterol-to-high-density-lipoprotein-cholesterol


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