Objective: Excess visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is recognized as an important risk factor for the development of coronary heart disease and type 2 diabetes. Several studies have reported less VAT in African Americans compared with whites. As little is known about the levels of VAT in Asians, we compared whole-body VAT in Asian Americans with European Americans.
Research methods and procedures: VAT was measured using whole-body multislice magnetic resonance imaging in 54 women (18 Asian Americans, 36 European Americans) and 53 men (19 Asian Americans, 34 European Americans) with body mass index (measured in kilograms per square meter) < 30. Data were analyzed by multiple regression modeling.
Results: Asian American women had higher log-transformed VAT compared with European American women (p < 0.05), after adjusting for age and total body fat. There was a significant age by race interaction such that race differences in VAT were most evident over the age of 30 years. No differences in VAT could be detected between Asian American and European American men, even after adjusting for potential covariates, including total adiposity.
Discussion: These data are the first to demonstrate higher amounts of VAT in healthy Asian Americans, a finding that suggests normative VAT values or standards derived from whites may not be applicable to Asians.