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Greater beneficial effects of visceral fat reduction compared with subcutaneous fat reduction on parameters of the metabolic syndrome: a study of weight reduction programmes in subjects with visceral and subcutaneous obesity


Hye Soon Park, Department of Family Medicine, Asan Medical Center, University of Ulsan College of Medicine, 388–1 Pungnap-dong, Songpa-gu, Seoul, South Korea 138-736. E-mail:


Aims  To evaluate the effect of weight reduction on parameters of the metabolic syndrome in obese patients according to their pattern of abdominal fat distribution.

Methods  A longitudinal intervention study, consisting of a 12-week weight reduction programme, including lifestyle modification and adjuvant appetite suppressant, in 38 subjects with visceral obesity and 47 subjects with subcutaneous obesity. Visceral, subcutaneous and total adipose tissue areas were determined by CT scan at the level of L4–L5. Parameters for components of the metabolic syndrome were measured before and after weight reduction.

Results  Reductions in body weight, BMI and subcutaneous adipose tissue area were greater in the subcutaneous than in the visceral obesity group. In contrast, changes in fasting plasma glucose, insulin, and HOMA score were higher in the visceral than in the subcutaneous obesity group. Changes in visceral adipose tissue area were significantly related to changes in fasting plasma glucose, triglycerides and HOMA score.

Conclusions  Visceral fat reduction induced greater beneficial effects on parameters of the metabolic syndrome than subcutaneous fat reduction. Evaluation of changes in abdominal fat distribution is necessary when obese subjects enter a weight reduction programme.