Visceral body fat is unhealthy, researchers say. According to a report published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, abdominal body fat increases risk of cardiovascular disease in adult men and women. This finding suggests that localized body fat may serve as a predictor of future cardiovascular disease.
An international team of researchers led by Jean-Pierre Despres of the Centre de recherche de l'Institut universitaire de cardiologie et de pneumologie de Québec made the connection when investigating the association between visceral body fat and cardiomatabolic risk factors in men and women with or without type 2 diabetes.
To this end, cardiologists and other medical scientists in 29 countries recruited 4144 men and women (39 - 71 years of age) for participation in the INternational Study of Prediction of Intra-abdominal adiposity and its RElationships with cardioMEtabolic risk/Intra-Abdominal Adiposity (INSPIRE ME IAA). The international study relied upon gender, visceral body fat and type 2 diabetes status in order to assess the cardiometabolic risk factors associated with adult onset diabetes mellitus.
Adipose Tissue, Energy Expenditure and Cardiometabolic Risk
The results showed that visceral adipose tissue (VAT) was linked to insulin resistance and type 2 diabetes. However, they noted individual variation in cardiometablic risk even when patients were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. Based on the findings of the Look AHEAD and the Framingham Heart Study, which showed that while VAT is more strongly associated with type 2 diabetes than subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), they concluded that SAT provides some protection at least for people diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
When researchers looked at SAT in terms of gender, this tissue type was associated with type 2 diabetes in women but not in men. However, in men with type 2 diabetes, higher VAT was associated with lower SAT. Yet they observed no inverse relationship between SAT and VAT in non-diabetic men.
The research team reasoned that cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes and visceral adipose tissue had a common origin. They cited the fact that problems with subcutaneous adipose tissue SAT, which in their study was associated with type 2 diabetes in women but not men, may facilitate accumulation of fat in the liver and VAT.
Subcutaneous adipose tissue is believed to store energy that would otherwise accumulate in other areas of the body. If SAT isn't able to properly store excess energy, it could facilitate fat storage elsewhere thus contributing to development of type 2 diabetes.
Despres's team concluded: "INSPIRE ME IAA confirms there is substantial individual variation in cardiometabolic risk even after a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, and part of the risk variability can be explained by VAT. Typical medication use, as seen in our population, cannot address all risk factors associated with high VAT and type 2 diabetes. Physicians should be aware that VAT poses a risk for patients both with and without type 2 diabetes and should consider weight loss, particularly abdominal fat loss, as an important therapeutic target through increased physical activity/exercise and monitored by measurement of waist circumference."
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Smith, J., Borel, A., Nazare, J., Haffner, S., Balkau, B., Ross, R., Massien, C., Almeras, N., & Despres, J. (2012). Visceral Adipose Tissue Indicates the Severity of Cardiometabolic Risk in Patients with and without Type 2 Diabetes: Results from the INSPIRE ME IAA Study Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism, 97 (5), 1517-1525 DOI: 10.1210/jc.2011-2550
"Visceral Fat Linked To Higher Cardiometabolic Risk, Study" copyright © 2012 Living Fit, Healthy and Happy(SM). All Rights Reserved.