Body fat distribution in white and black women: different patterns of intraabdominal and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue utilization with weight loss

Am J Clin Nutr. 2001 Nov;74(5):631-6. doi: 10.1093/ajcn/74.5.631.


Background: Intraabdominal adipose tissue (IAAT) is the body fat depot most strongly related to disease risk. Weight reduction is advocated for overweight people to reduce total body fat and IAAT, although little is known about the effect of weight loss on abdominal fat distribution in different races.

Objective: We compared the effects of diet-induced weight loss on changes in abdominal fat distribution in white and black women.

Design: We studied 23 white and 23 black women, similar in age and body composition, in the overweight state [mean body mass index (BMI; in kg/m(2)): 28.8] and the normal-weight state (mean BMI: 24.0) and 38 never-overweight control women (mean BMI: 23.4). We measured total body fat by using a 4-compartment model, trunk fat by using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and cross-sectional areas of IAAT (at the fourth and fifth lumbar vertebrae) and subcutaneous abdominal adipose tissue (SAAT) by using computed tomography.

Results: Weight loss was similar in white and black women (13.1 and 12.6 kg, respectively), as were losses of total fat, trunk fat, and waist circumference. However, white women lost more IAAT (P < 0.001) and less SAAT (P < 0.03) than did black women. Fat patterns regressed toward those of their respective control groups. Changes in waist circumference correlated with changes in IAAT in white women (r = 0.54, P < 0.05) but not in black women (r = 0.19, NS).

Conclusions: Despite comparable decreases in total and trunk fat, white women lost more IAAT and less SAAT than did black women. Waist circumference was not a suitable surrogate marker for tracking changes in the visceral fat compartment in black women.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Abdomen / anatomy & histology
  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adipose Tissue / anatomy & histology
  • Adipose Tissue / metabolism*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Black People*
  • Body Composition / genetics
  • Body Constitution / genetics
  • Body Constitution / physiology*
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / diet therapy
  • Obesity / metabolism*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Weight Loss / genetics
  • Weight Loss / physiology*
  • White People*