A study published in the May 19 issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association revealed that nearly one-third of the American population suffers from metabolic syndrome. The syndrome occurs when an individual has at least three risk factors, among them obesity, high cholesterol and high blood pressure, that increase the likelihood of heart disease.

Another study, recently published online, claims that overweight black women are at a greater risk of developing cardiovascular disorders, even when they do not suffer from metabolic syndrome.

The study also found that excess weight in white women, in the absence of metabolic syndrome, does not mean they are more likely to develop heart-related disorders.

Researchers found that overweight black women had a 117 percent greater risk of developing a cardiovascular disease, even without a cluster of a minimum of the three metabolism-related abnormalities.

The research team -- led by cardiologist Michelle D. Schmiegelow of Copenhagen University Hospital Gentofte, in Denmark -- tried to establish a link between the cardiovascular risk in postmenopausal women and the level of obesity and metabolic syndrome across different racial groups.

The research team studied data from 14,364 women between 50 and 79 in age. The data for the serum glucose and fasting serum lipid levels of subjects was collected from the records of the Women's Health Initiative. None of the women had a history of baseline diabetes or a cardiovascular disorder.

The hospital followed up on the subject population over a period of 13 years. The researchers found that obese black women who did not have metabolic syndrome had a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease than a woman whose weight was about right for her size.

However, overweight white women without metabolic syndrome had a risk of developing the disorder similar to that of women of normal weight.

"It appeared that the cardiovascular disease risk was elevated in black women by the presence of only two or three metabolic abnormalities to a degree that would require four or more metabolic abnormalities among white women," said Schmiegelow, in a statement.

The study was published online in the Journal of the American Heart Association.