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Visceral Adipose Fat Tissue: Effects of Diet and Exercise
Effect of Exercise and Weight Loss Diets on Intra-Abdominal Fat
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Effects of Diet & Exercise on Visceral Adipose (Fat) Tissue

The effects of diet and exercise-induced weight loss on visceral adipose (fat) tissue (VAT) distribution in both men and women have been reviewed. In general, current knowledge is based on studies that have assessed the influence of diet alone on visceral adipose tissue in obese women. For every kilogram of diet-induced weight loss, the corresponding reduction in visceral adipose tissue expressed in absolute terms is approximately 3 to 4 cm2, and in relative terms is approximately 2 to 3 percent. Thus, a diet-induced weight loss of approximately 12 kg corresponds to a 30 to 35 percent reduction in visceral adipose tissue. Two studies that consider the effects of exercise per se on visceral adipose tissue report conflicting results. There appears to be a resistance to visceral adipose tissue reduction in obese women, whereas exercise-induced weight loss is associated with significant reductions in visceral adipose tissue in men. It was also reported that in obese men, reductions in visceral adipose tissue induced by the combination of diet and exercise are not different from those observed in response to diet alone. It is unclear whether the results of these studies reflect a biological truth or are confounded by methodological problems associated with the control of energy intake and expenditure in free-living patients. Evidence suggests that changes in waist circumference and sagittal diameter are well correlated with corresponding changes in visceral adipose tissue. A 1 cm reduction in waist circumference corresponds to a 5 cm2 (4 percent) reduction in visceral adipose tissue area at the L3 level. Data on the separate effects of diet- and exercise-induced weight loss on visceral adipose tissue from well controlled studies are required to advance current knowledge with respect to the effects of diet and exercise on the adipose tissue depot that conveys the greatest health risk.

Source: Ross R. School of Physical and Health Education, Queen's University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada.

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