The Relationship of Waist Circumference and BMI to Visceral, Subcutaneous, and Total Body Fat: Sex and Race Differences

Authors


(Peter.Katzmarzyk@pbrc.edu)

Abstract

The purpose of this study was to examine sex and race differences in the relationship between anthropometric measurements and adiposity in white and African-American (AA) adults. Visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT) areas were measured with computed tomography (CT). Fat mass (FM) was measured with dual-energy-X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). Correlation coefficients were used to assess the relationship of waist circumference (WC) and BMI to VAT, SAT, and FM within sex-by-race groups. General linear models were used to compare relationships between WC or BMI, and adiposity across sex and race, within age groups (18–39 and 40–64 years). The sample included 1,667 adults (men: 489 white; 120 AA; women: 666 white, 392 AA). WC and BMI correlations were highest for FM and SAT compared to VAT. Women had higher FM levels than men regardless of WC, but the sex difference in FM was attenuated in younger AA adults with a high BMI. For a given level of WC or BMI, women had higher levels of SAT than men; however, significant interactions indicated that the relationship was not consistent across all levels of BMI and WC. Sex and race differences in VAT varied significantly with WC and BMI. In general, white adults had higher levels of VAT than AA adults at higher levels of BMI and WC. Sex differences, and in some instances race differences, in the relationships between anthropometry and fat-specific depots demonstrate that these characteristics need to be considered when predicting adiposity from WC or BMI.

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