Background: Self-rated health (SRH) has been demonstrated to be an accurate reflection of a person's health and a valid predictor of incident mortality and chronic morbidity. We aimed to evaluate the distribution and factors associated with SRH and its association with biomarkers of cardio-metabolic diseases among middle-aged and elderly Chinese. \ud Methods: Survey of 1,458 men and 1,831 women aged 50 to 70 years, conducted in one urban and two rural areas of Beijing and Shanghai in 2005. SRH status was measured and categorized as good (very good and good) vs. not good (fair, poor and very poor). Determinants of SRH and associations with biomarkers of cardio-metabolic diseases were evaluated using logistic regression. \ud Results: Thirty two percent of participants reported good SRH. Males and rural residents tended to report good SRH. After adjusting for potential confounders, residence, physical activity, employment status, sleep quality and presence of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and depression were the main determinants of SRH. Those free from cardiovascular disease (OR 3.68; 95%CI 2.39; 5.66), rural residents (OR 1.89; 95% CI 1.47; 2.43), non-depressed participants (OR 2.50; 95% CI 1.67; 3.73) and those with good sleep quality (OR 2.95; 95% CI 2.22; 3.91) had almost twice or over the chance of reporting good SRH compared to their counterparts. There were significant associations -and trend- between SRH and levels of inflammatory markers, insulin levels and insulin resistance. \ud Conclusion: Only one third of middle-aged and elderly Chinese assessed their health status as good or very good. Although further longitudinal studies are required to confirm our findings, interventions targeting social inequalities, lifestyle patterns might not only contribute to prevent chronic morbidity but as well to improve populations' perceived health
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