Visceral Fat Linked to Cardiometabolic Risk

(HealthDay News) — Visceral fat is associated with cardiometabolic risk, including metabolic syndrome, regardless of BMI, according to a study published in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Ravi V. Shah, MD, from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the differential effects of visceral fat and subcutaneous fat and their effects on risk for metabolic syndrome across BMI categories. 

Data were included from 1,511 individuals in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis who underwent adiposity assessment by computed tomography (CT). Two hundred fifty-three participants without metabolic syndrome at their initial scan underwent repeat CT.

Regardless of BMI, visceral fat correlated with cardiometabolic risk and coronary artery calcification, according to the data. 

The correlation with incident metabolic syndrome was stronger for visceral fat than for subcutaneous fat after adjustment, regardless of weight, with a 28% greater risk for metabolic syndrome per 100 cm²/m visceral fat area and significant net reclassification over clinical risk (net reclassification index=0.44; 95% CI, 0.29-0.60). 

After adjustment, initial visceral fat and change in visceral fat correlated with metabolic syndrome (HR=1.24 per 100 cm²/m; 95% CI, 1.08-1.44 and HR=1.05 per 5% change; 95% CI, 1.01-1.08). 

After adjustment for clinical risk and visceral fat, changes in subcutaneous fat were not associated with incident metabolic syndrome.

“Visceral adiposity is essential to assessing cardiometabolic risk, regardless of age, race, or BMI, and may serve as a marker and target of therapy in cardiometabolic disease,” the researchers wrote.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.


  1. Shah RV et al. J Am Coll Cardiol Img. 2014;doi:10.1016/j.jcmg.2014.07.017.