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PLoS One. 2015 Nov 30;10(11):e0143925. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0143925. eCollection 2015.

Association of Habitual Patterns and Types of Physical Activity and Inactivity with MRI-Determined Total Volumes of Visceral and Subcutaneous Abdominal Adipose Tissue in a General White Population.

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Department of Nutrition and Food Sciences, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.
Department of Geriatrics, University Hospital Zurich & Centre on Aging and Mobility, University of Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland.
Department of Neurology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.
PopGen Biobank, University Hospital Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel, Germany.
Institute of Epidemiology, Kiel University, Kiel, Germany.


Population-based evidence for the role of habitual physical activity (PA) in the accumulation of visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous (SAAT) abdominal adipose tissue is limited. We investigated if usual patterns and types of self-reported PA and inactivity were associated with VAT and SAAT in a general white population. Total volumes of VAT and SAAT were quantified by magnetic resonance imaging in 583 men and women (61 ± 11.9 y; BMI 27.2 ± 4.4 kg/m2). Past-year PA and inactivity were self-reported by questionnaire. Exploratory activity patterns (APAT) were derived by principal components analysis. Cross-sectional associations between individual activities, total PA in terms of metabolic equivalents (PA MET), or overall APAT and either VAT or SAAT were analyzed by multivariable-adjusted robust or generalized linear regression models. Whereas vigorous-intensity PA (VPA) was negatively associated with both VAT and SAAT, associations between total PA MET, moderate-intensity PA (MPA), or inactivity and VAT and/or SAAT depended on sex. There was also evidence of a threshold effect in some of these relationships. Total PA MET was more strongly associated with VAT in men (B = -3.3 ± 1.4; P = 0.02) than women (B = -2.1 ± 1.1; P = 0.07), but was more strongly associated with SAAT in women (B = -5.7 ± 2.5; P = 0.05) than men (B = -1.7 ± 1.6; P = 0.3). Men (-1.52 dm3 or -1.89 dm3) and women (-1.15 dm3 or -2.61 dm3) in the highest (>6.8 h/wk VPA) or second (4.0-6.8 h/wk VPA) tertile of an APAT rich in VPA, had lower VAT and SAAT, respectively, than those in the lowest (<4.0 h/wk VPA) tertile (P ≤ 0.016; P trend ≤ 0.0005). They also had lower VAT and SAAT than those with APAT rich in MPA and/or inactivity only. In conclusion, our results suggest that in white populations, habitual APAT rich in MPA might be insufficient to impact on accumulation of VAT or SAAT. APAT including ≥ 4.0-6.8 h/wk VPA, by contrast, are more strongly associated with lower VAT and SAAT.

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