Background: Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Nigeria is currently undergoing rapid epidemiological transition. The objective was to study whether urbanization is associated with increased prevalence of MetS between native rural Abuja settlers and genetically related urban dwellers. Materials and Methods: It was a cross-sectional study. Three hundred and forty-two urban native Abuja settlers and 325 rural dwellers were used for the study. Fasting blood lipid, glucose, waist circumference, blood pressure, and body mass index were determined. MetS was defined according to three standard criteria. SPSS 16.0 was used for statistical analysis. P<0.05 was used as statistically significant. Results: Obesity, hypertriglyceridemia, and hypertension were commoner among urban dwellers than rural dwellers. MetS was associated more with the female gender. Urbanization significantly increases the frequency of MetS using the three standard definitions. The prevalence of MetS using International Diabetes Federation, World Health Organization, and National Cholesterol Education Program Adult Treatment Panel III among rural versus urban dwellers were 7.7% vs. 14.9%, P<0.05; 0% vs. 0.9%, P>0.05; and 3.7% vs. 13.7%, P<0.05, respectively. Conclusion: This study shows that MetS is a major health condition among rural and urban Nigerians and that urbanization significantly increases the prevalence of MetS. This can be explained on the basis of higher prevalence of dyslipidemia, obesity, and hypertension in urban setting, possibly as a result of stress, diet, and reduction in physical activity. Effective preventive strategy is therefore required to stem the increased risk associated with urbanization to reduce the cardiovascular risk associated with MetS among Nigerians.
Key words: Dyslipidemia, metabolic syndrome, Nigeria, obesity, urbanization.