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Visceral obesity linked to high carotid IMT

Int J Obes 2008; Advance online publication

Diabetic individuals who have visceral obesity, regardless of their waist circumference, have higher carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) than those with higher waist circumference but lower visceral fat, show study results.

Previous research indicates that visceral obesity may play a larger role in the development of cardiovascular disease than overall obesity.

However, the most common measurement for visceral obesity is waist circumference, which “performs poorly in discriminating between visceral and subcutaneous fat,” say S Kim (Pochon CHA University, Sungnam, Korea) and team.

Kim and colleagues investigated whether use of ultrasonography to measure visceral fat quantity might estimate potential atherosclerotic risk more accurately than use of waist circumference alone in a group of 368 men with Type 2 diabetes.

The researchers used ultrasonographic measurement of carotid IMT as a marker of subclinical atherosclerosis. Abdominal obesity was defined as a waist circumference of over 90 cm (Asian measurement) and visceral obesity as a visceral fat thickness of 47.6 mm or above.

In total, 174 men had abdominal obesity, 35 of whom did not have visceral obesity. But 88 of the 194 participants without abdominal obesity had visceral obesity.

Carotid IMT was higher in men with visceral but not abdominal obesity compared with men with abdominal but not visceral obesity, at an average of 0.74 versus 0.64 mm.

Kim et al conclude: “In addition to waist circumference, a direct estimation for visceral fat, such as visceral fat thickness, may provide an additional role in identifying diabetic patients with an increased atherosclerotic burden.”

The results are published in the International Journal of Obesity.

Read the abstract