Reduction of visceral adipose tissue during weight loss

Eur J Clin Nutr. 2002 Apr;56(4):297-304. doi: 10.1038/sj.ejcn.1601334.


Objective: The aims of the present study were to retrospectively: (1) compare how weight loss affects the reduction of adipose tissue from three different sites between men and women; and (2) to verify whether gender differences in the reduction of adipose tissue are influenced by changes in fat mass (FM) and initial levels of fat in different compartments.

Design: Double-blind randomized treatment with fenfluramine once daily coupled to a non-macronutrient specific energy restriction.

Subjects: Seventeen obese men (age 43.9+/-1.5 and body mass index (BMI) 34.3+/-0.7) and 17 obese women (age 41.2+/-1.2 and BMI 35.7+/-0.6).

Interventions: Subjects were given fenfluramine (60 mg) or placebo once daily and were also subjected to a non-macronurient specific energy restriction of -2.9 MJ/day (-700 kcal/day) for 15 weeks.

Results: Body weight, FM, fat-free mass (FFM), waist circumference, BMI, as well as visceral (VAT), subcutaneous abdominal (SAT) and thigh (TAT) adipose tissue were all significantly reduced. Men lost significantly more VAT (-41.6%) than SAT (-22.5%), or than TAT (-20.5%) while no site difference in fat loss was observed in women when changes were calculated as a percentage of initial levels. Men lost about twice as much fat from the VAT compartment than did women (P<0.05), even after having considered changes in FM as a potential covariate. In absolute values, TAT was reduced to a lesser extent in men than in women. However, when initial levels of respective fat depots were also taken into account, gender differences in VAT and TAT loss were no longer statistically significant.

Conclusion: These results suggest that gender differences in VAT reduction during weight loss are independent of changes in FM. However, once initial levels of VAT are also taken into account, gender differences in the reduction of this tissue during weight loss are no longer apparent.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / diagnostic imaging*
  • Adult
  • Analysis of Variance
  • Body Weight / physiology
  • Diet, Reducing
  • Double-Blind Method
  • Female
  • Fenfluramine / administration & dosage
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Serotonin Agents / administration & dosage
  • Sex Factors
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed
  • Weight Loss / physiology*


  • Serotonin Agents
  • Fenfluramine