How to best assess abdominal obesity

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Purpose of reviewAbdominal obesity, especially the increase of visceral adipose tissue (VAT), is closely associated with increased mortality related to cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and fatty liver disease. This review provides an overview of the recent advances for abdominal obesity measurement.Recent findingsCompared to simple waist circumference, emerging three-dimensional (3D) body-scanning techniques also measure abdominal volume and shape. Abdominal dimension measures have been implemented in bioelectrical impedance analysis to improve accuracy when estimating VAT. Geometrical models have been applied in ultrasound to convert depth measurement into VAT area. Only computed tomography (CT) and MRI can provide direct measures of VAT. Recent advances in imaging allow for evaluating functional aspects of abdominal fat such as brown adipose tissue and fatty acid composition.SummaryWaist circumference is a simple, inexpensive method to measure abdominal obesity. CT and MRI are reference methods for measuring VAT. Further studies are needed to establish the accuracy for dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry in estimating longitudinal changes of VAT. Further studies are needed to establish whether bioelectrical impedance analysis, ultrasound, or 3D body scanning is consistently superior to waist circumference in estimating VAT in different populations.

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