The association of visceral adipose tissue and subcutaneous adipose tissue with metabolic risk factors in a large population of Chinese adults

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Abstract

Objective

Abdominal visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous (SAT) adipose tissues contribute to obesity, but may have different cardiometabolic risk profiles. We examined and compared the associations of abdominal VAT and SAT with metabolic risk factors in a large cohort of Chinese adults.

Methods

This study was based on cross-sectional analysis of data from 1449 adults aged 40–65 years. VAT and SAT were assessed at L4–L5 level by magnetic resonance imaging. The associations of VAT and SAT with blood pressure, glucose and lipid were examined by linear regression stratified by sex and glucose tolerance status (normal glucose tolerance and prediabetes). Logistic regression was used to analyse the association of VAT and SAT with risk of hypertension, prediabetes and dyslipidaemia.

Results

VAT was more strongly associated with metabolic risk factors. Higher VAT was associated with higher blood pressure (βmen = 3·99, P = 0·0002; βwomen = 6·46, P = 0·0002), higher triglyceride (βmen = 0·45, P < 0·0001; βwomen = 0·6, P < 0·0001), higher total cholesterol (βmen = 0·15, P = 0·02; βwomen = 0·37, P = 0·0002) and higher 2-h glucose levels (βmen = 0·68, P = 0·003; βwomen = 0·94, P < 0·0001). The association remained significant after subjects were stratified by glucose tolerance status. However, SAT was not associated with any additional risk factors. VAT was associated with increased risk of hypertension (OR = 1·97, P < 0·0001), prediabetes (OR = 1·53, P = 0·0007) and dyslipidaemia (OR = 2·40, P < 0·0001). These associations were not observed for SAT.

Conclusions

VAT was more strongly associated with cardiometabolic risk factors than SAT in a large cohort of Chinese adults. Higher VAT was associated with increased risk of hypertension, dyslipidaemia and prediabetes.

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