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Obesity (Silver Spring). 2007 Feb;15(2):531-8.

High visceral fat mass and high liver fat are associated with resistance to lifestyle intervention.

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  • 1Department of Endocrinology and Metabolism, Eberhard-Karls-University, Tübingen, Germany.



High visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and high liver fat (LF) are associated with the metabolic syndrome and diabetes. We studied changes in these two fat depots during weight loss and analyzed whether VAT and LF at baseline predict the response to lifestyle intervention.


One hundred twelve subjects (48 men and 64 women; age, 46 +/- 11 years; BMI, 29.2 +/- 4.4 kg/m(2)) were studied after a follow up-time of 264 +/- 60 (SD) days. Insulin sensitivity was estimated from the oral glucose tolerance test. Body fat depots were quantified using magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy.


Cross-sectionally high VAT (r = -0.22, p = 0.02) and high LF (r = -0.36, p < 0.0001) were independently associated with low insulin sensitivity. With intervention, BMI (-3.0%), VAT (-12.0%), and LF (-33.0%) were reduced (all p < 0.001). Insulin sensitivity was improved (+17%, p < 0.01). The changes in BMI (r = -0.41), VAT (r = -0.28), and LF (r = -0.39) were associated with the increase in insulin sensitivity (all p < 0.01). High VAT (r = -0.28, p = 0.01) and high LF (r = -0.38, p < 0.01) at baseline were associated with a lesser increase in insulin sensitivity.


Baseline values and changes in BMI, VAT, and LF are related to changes in insulin sensitivity during lifestyle intervention. Subjects with high VAT and LF have a lower chance of profiting from lifestyle intervention and may require intensified lifestyle prevention strategies or even pharmacological approaches to improve insulin sensitivity.

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