Background/Aims: Type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease share risk factors. The influence of family history of diabetes on the odds of having metabolic syndrome has not been estimated for the U.S. population. Our objective was to quantify this association in a national sample of U.S. adults without diabetes. Methods: The sample included 4,937 individuals from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) (1999–2004). Familial risk of diabetes was classified in 3 strata according to the combination of relatives affected. Metabolic syndrome was defined according to guidelines issued by 4 groups or organizations. The prevalence and odds of this syndrome were compared among familial risk strata after controlling for relevant risk factors. Results: Overall, depending on the definition and after controlling for key variables, people with a moderate familial risk of diabetes, and people with a high familial risk of diabetes were between 1.4 and 1.6, and 1.6 and 1.8 times as likely, respectively, to have metabolic syndrome compared to people with average familial risk. Conclusion: In a nationally representative sample of U.S. adults without diabetes, family history of diabetes shows a significant, independent association with metabolic syndrome and its traits. This association supports the idea that shared genes and environment contribute to the expression of complex traits such as diabetes and the metabolic syndrome.
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