Acta Diabetologica

, Volume 56, Issue 4, pp 473–479 | Cite as

Light smoking is associated with metabolic syndrome risk factors in Chilean young adults

  • Evaline Cheng
  • Raquel Burrows
  • Paulina Correa
  • Carmen Gloria Güichapani
  • Estela Blanco
  • Sheila GahaganEmail author
Original Article



Metabolic syndrome (MetS) is a cluster of risk factors for cardiometabolic diseases. While cigarette smoking is associated with MetS in adults, young adulthood is an under-studied, susceptible period for developing long-term morbidity from MetS. We examined associations between cigarette smoking and MetS risk factors.


We studied 430 participants in Santiago, Chile who have been followed in a longitudinal cohort since infancy and assessed in adolescence for MetS. Participants were evaluated at 22 years from May 2015 to July 2017. Adiposity, blood pressure, and blood samples were measured. MetS was defined using International Diabetes Federation criteria. A continuous MetS score was calculated using z-scores. Participants self-reported cigarette and alcohol consumption using standardized questionnaires. We used multivariate regressions to examine associations between smoking and MetS risk factors, adjusting for sex, MetS in adolescence, alcohol consumption, and socioeconomic status.


Thirteen percent of participants had MetS and 50% were current smokers. Among smokers, mean age of initiation was 14.9 years and consumption was 29 cigarettes weekly. Smokers had larger waist circumferences, higher BMIs, and lower high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol compared to non-smokers. Being a current smoker was significantly associated with higher waist circumference (β = 2.82; 95% CI 0.63, 5.02), lower HDL (β = − 3.62; 95% CI − 6.19, − 1.04), higher BMI (β = 1.22; 95% CI 0.16, 2.28), and higher MetS score (β = 0.13, 95% CI 0.02, 0.24).


Cigarette smoking at light levels (mean < 30 cigarettes weekly) was associated with MetS risk factors in a sample of Chilean young adults.


Metabolic syndrome Cigarette smoking Young adult Obesity Cholesterol Waist circumference 



This project was supported by grants by the National Institutes of Health, Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute [HL088530, PI: Gahagan]. Evaline Cheng was also funded by the Global Health Institute and Global Health Academic Concentration at the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine. Dr. Correa was supported by the Advanced Human Capital Program, National Commission of Scientific and Technological Research (Santiago, Chile). The authors thank the study participants and their families for their continuous involvement.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Italia S.r.l., part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Division of Child Development and Community Health, Department of PediatricsUniversity of CaliforniaSan Diego, La JollaUSA
  2. 2.Institute of Nutrition and Food Technology (INTA)University of ChileMaculChile
  3. 3.Public Health PhD ProgramUniversity of ChileIndependenciaChile

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