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Nutr Diabetes. 2011 Jan 31;1:e2. doi: 10.1038/nutd.2010.2.

Abdominal adiposity depots are correlates of adverse cardiometabolic risk factors in Caucasian and African-American adults.

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Pennington Biomedical Research Center, LSU System, Baton Rouge, LA, USA.



Accumulation of adipose tissue is associated with cardiometabolic risks. Although visceral adipose tissue (VAT) has been strongly implicated in this relationship, there is still some debate regarding the contribution of abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). The purpose of this study was to determine the contribution of abdominal SAT to cardiometabolic risk factors, independent of total and visceral adiposity. These relationships were assessed in Caucasian and African Americans.


It is a cross-sectional analysis of the Pennington Center Longitudinal Study.


Data were extracted from 1246 participants. Total body fat mass (FM) was measured by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, whereas abdominal VAT and SAT areas (cm(2)) were measured with computed tomography. The cardiometabolic risk factors included resting blood pressure (BP), fasting blood glucose and triglyceride concentrations and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C).


Positive relationships across tertiles of VAT were seen for the participants with high glucose, high BP and low HDL-C (P<0.043). There was also a significant increase in the percentage of participants with two or more cardiometabolic risk factors across most tertiles of abdominal SAT (P<0.042). Logistic regression analysis showed that in univariate models, all adiposity measures were significantly associated with increased odds of having all risk factors in men and women. In multivariate models, VAT was significantly associated with most risk factors across gender. Abdominal SAT and FM (odds ratios (ORs) 1.3-2.1; all P<0.05) were associated with fewer risk factors after accounting for VAT. VAT (OR=5.9 and 5.3) and SAT (OR=2.0 and 1.8) were both associated with higher odds of the presence of two or more cardiometabolic risk factors in both males and females (P<0.001).


The data suggest that abdominal SAT is not protective against unfavorable cardiometabolic risk profiles. These conclusions were consistent across ethnic groups.

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