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1.  Metabolic Syndrome and Cardiovascular Risk Factors in a National Sample of Adolescent Population in the Middle East and North Africa: The CASPIAN III Study 
Objective. The present study was designed to investigate the prevalence of different combinations of the metabolic syndrome (MetS) risk factors among a nationally representative sample of adolescents in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Methods. The study sample, obtained as part of the third study of the school-based surveillance system entitled CASPIAN III, was representative of the Iranian adolescent population aged from 10 to 18 years. The prevalence of different components of MetS was studied and their discriminative value was assessed by receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Results. The study participants consisted of 5738 students (2875 girls) with mean age of 14.7 ± 2.4 years) living in 23 provinces in Iran; 17.4% of participants were underweight and 17.7% were overweight or obese. Based on the criteria of the International Diabetes Federation for the adolescent age group, 24.2% of participants had one risk factor, 8.0% had two, 2.1% had three, and 0.3% had all the four components of MetS. Low HDL-C was the most common component (43.2% among the overweight/obese versus 34.9% of the normal-weight participants), whereas high blood pressure was the least common component. The prevalence of MetS was 15.4% in the overweight/obese participants, the corresponding figure was 1.8% for the normal-weight students, and 2.5% in the whole population studied. Overweight/obese subjects had a 9.68 increased odds of (95% CI: 6.65–14.09) the MetS compared to their normal-weight counterparts. For all the three risk factors, AUC ranged between 0.84 and 0.88, 0.83 and 0.87, and 0.86 and 0.89 in waist circumference, abdominal obesity, and BMI for boys and between 0.78 and 0.97, 0.67 and 0.93, and 0.82 and 0.96 for girls, respectively. Conclusion. The findings from this study provide alarming evidence-based data on the considerable prevalence of obesity, MetS, and CVD risk factors in the adolescent age group. These results are confirmatory evidence for the necessity of primordial/primary prevention of noncommunicable disease should be considered as a health priority in communities facing a double burden of nutritional disorders.
PMCID: PMC3580930  PMID: 23476647
2.  The validity of Iran’s national university entrance examination (Konkoor) for predicting medical students’ academic performance 
BMC Medical Education  2012;12:60.
In Iran, admission to medical school is based solely on the results of the highly competitive, nationwide Konkoor examination. This paper examines the predictive validity of Konkoor scores, alone and in combination with high school grade point averages (hsGPAs), for the academic performance of public medical school students in Iran.
This study followed the cohort of 2003 matriculants at public medical schools in Iran from entrance through internship. The predictor variables were Konkoor total and subsection scores and hsGPAs. The outcome variables were (1) Comprehensive Basic Sciences Exam (CBSE) scores; (2) Comprehensive Pre-Internship Exam (CPIE) scores; and (3) medical school grade point averages (msGPAs) for the courses taken before internship. Pearson correlation and regression analyses were used to assess the relationships between the selection criteria and academic performance.
There were 2126 matriculants (1374 women and 752 men) in 2003. Among the outcome variables, the CBSE had the strongest association with the Konkoor total score (r = 0.473), followed by msGPA (r = 0.339) and the CPIE (r = 0.326). While adding hsGPAs to the Konkoor total score almost doubled the power to predict msGPAs (R2 = 0.225), it did not have a substantial effect on CBSE or CPIE prediction.
The Konkoor alone, and even in combination with hsGPA, is a relatively poor predictor of medical students’ academic performance, and its predictive validity declines over the academic years of medical school. Care should be taken to develop comprehensive admissions criteria, covering both cognitive and non-cognitive factors, to identify the best applicants to become "good doctors" in the future. The findings of this study can be helpful for policy makers in the medical education field.
PMCID: PMC3461424  PMID: 22840211

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