BACKGROUND: Visceral obesity is associated with the metabolic syndrome. The metabolic risk differs per ethnicity, but reference values for visceral obesity for body composition analyses using Computed Tomography (CT) scans in the Caucasian population are lacking. Therefore, the aim of this study was to define gender specific reference values for visceral obesity in a Caucasian cohort based upon the association between the amount of visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and markers of increased metabolic risk.
METHODS: Visceral Adipose Tissue Area Index (VATI cm 2/m 2) at the level of vertebra L3 was analyzed using CT scans of 416 healthy living kidney donor candidates. The use of antihypertensive drugs and/or statins was used as an indicator for increased metabolic risk. Gender specific cut-off values for VATI with a sensitivity ≥80% were calculated using receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves.
RESULTS: In both men and women who used antihypertensive drugs, statins or both, VATI was higher than in those who did not use these drugs (p ≤ 0.013). In males and females respectively, a value of VATI of ≥38.7 cm 2/m 2 and ≥24.9 cm 2/m 2 was associated with increased metabolic risk with a sensitivity of 80%. ROC analysis showed that VATI was a better predictor of increased metabolic risk than BMI (area under ROC curve (AUC) = 0.702 vs AUC = 0.556 in males and AUC = 0.757 vs AUC = 0.630 in females).
CONCLUSION: Gender and ethnicity specific cut-off values for visceral obesity are important in body composition research, although further validation is needed. This study also showed that quantification of VATI is a better predictor for metabolic risk than BMI.