Visceral fat

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Editor-In-Chief: C. Michael Gibson, M.S., M.D. [1]; Associate Editor(s)-in-Chief: Dayana Davidis, M.D. [2]


Visceral fat, also known as inner organ fat, is located inside the peritoneal cavity, packed in between internal organs, as opposed to subcutaneous fat which is found underneath the skin and intramuscular fat which is found interspersed in skeletal muscle. An excess of visceral fat leads to the "pot belly" or "beer belly" effect, in which the abdomen protrudes excessively. This body type is also known as "apple" shaped, as opposed to "pear" shape, in which fat is deposited on the hips and buttocks. Visceral fat is composed of several adipose depots including mesenteric, epididymal white adipose tissue (EWAT) and perirenal depots. Visceral fat accumulation is associated with increased risk of heart disease and type 2 diabetes.

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Measuring Visceral Fat

Visceral fat can be estimated per area, manually or using a BIA or bioelectrical impedance analysis diagnostic machine or using a CT or computed tomography scan at the umbilical level.

The VFA using BIA can be expressed as:


where a0 and a1 are constants, Vo' is the voltage measured at the flank and Wc is the waist circumference.

The voltage occurring at the flank to the flow between the umbilicus and the back becomes larger as the visceral fat can be different even with subjects with the same Wc because the resistance of intra abdominal fat is greater than the resistance of fat free mass.

Risk Factors

Visceral fat has been associated with more risk factor syndromes than the BMI or body mass index which is the result of the equation of diving the weight over the height squared.

Scientists have proved that it is possible to be thin on the outside and have inner organ fat