A correlation between the weight of visceral adipose tissue and selected anthropometric indices: an autopsy study

Authors

  • E. Edston

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Forensic Medicine, National Board of Forensic Medicine, Linköping, Sweden
    • Address for correspondence: Dr E Edston, Department of Forensic Medicine, National Board of Forensic Medicine, Artillerigatan 12, 587 58 Linköping, Sweden. E-mail: erik.edston@telia.com

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Abstract

What is already known on the subject

  • Several anthropometric indices are used as an estimation of the true amount of body fat, e.g. the body mass index (BMI). These indices correlate well with each other and with non-invasive measurements of total body fat and visceral adipose tissue. The indices generally show a strong correlation with cardiovascular disease and diabetes mellitus.

What this study adds

  • Direct measurement of visceral adipose tissue by weight (VAW) from autopsy cases positively correlates with the anthropometric indices.
  • VAW also positively correlates with fatty tissue thickness at separate locations, i.e. renal capsular and epicardial fatty tissue.
  • VAW is positively correlated with the severity of cardiosclerosis and diabetes mellitus, but there is no significant difference in VAW between deaths from cardiovascular complications and other natural deaths.

Summary

Different anthropometric indices and non-invasive methods have been used to estimate the total burden of body fat. Increased visceral adipose tissue is believed to involve elevated risk for cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, chronic kidney disease and hypertension. At present, the optimal method to estimate the visceral and total amount of fat remains undecided. In the present study of 201 autopsy cases, direct measurement of visceral adipose tissue by weight (VAW) has been compared to common anthropometric indices, namely body mass index (BMI), waist-to-hip ratio (W/Hip ratio), waist-to-height ratio (W/Height ratio), body adiposity index (BAI), waist circumference and abdominal wall thickness. The prevalence and severity of cardiovascular disease, diabetes mellitus and cause of death were also correlated with the anthropometric data. The outcome was that all anthropometric measurements showed a significant positive correlation with the weight of visceral adipose tissue, and the r-value of the comparison to waist circumference was the highest (r = 0.82). Thickness of fatty tissue enveloping the kidneys and heart, as well as heart weight, was also strongly correlated with VAW. VAW was significantly higher in men compared with women, and in diabetes mellitus compared with non-diabetic patients. VAW was also positively correlated with the severity of coronary artery sclerosis. On the contrary, there was no significant difference between high and low VAW comparing between deaths from cardiovascular complications and natural deaths from other causes. The conclusion is that the anthropometric measurements give a good approximation of the real amount of visceral fat, and that waist circumference and W/Height ratio show the best correlations.

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