Objective: To determine if visceral adipose tissue (VAT) area measured through MRI can be used opportunistically to assess the presence of cardiometabolic risk factors and compare its performance to simpler adiposity measures. Methods: A cross-sectional analysis was carried out on a subset of 1683 participants (856 women) from the Adiposity Phenotype Study (mean age = 69.2y; range 59.9–77.4). The association of total VAT area (sum of four cross sections, L1–L2, L2–L3, L3–L4, L4–L5) and each location, as well as BMI and body fat % (per SD) with the metabolic syndrome (MetSx) or its components was evaluated through logistic regression analysis. Results: Total VAT can be accurately predicted using all sites evaluated (R2 range = 0.82−0.96). In men, VAT did not show a superior association to MetSx compared to BMI in men. However, in women, VAT was consistently superior to BMI and body fat % in its association to MetSx, independent of ethnicity [odds ratio for BMI, body fat %and total VAT area = 2.25 (95% CI: 1.93–2.62); 1.66 (95% CI: 1.36–2.03); 6.20 (95% CI: 4.69–8.21) respectively in all women]. Ethnic-specific odds ratios to MetSx in women ranged from 5.38 to 8.63 for total VAT area and 2.12–4.08 for BMI. Conclusion: Total VAT area can be accurately predicted from individual VAT regions in men and women and offers superior association to BMI for MetSx in women but not in men for five ethnicities. Therefore, opportunistic screening for elevated VAT area in women may be warranted across multiple ethnic groups.
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