The clinical importance of visceral adiposity: a critical review of methods for visceral adipose tissue analysis

Br J Radiol. 2012 Jan;85(1009):1-10. doi: 10.1259/bjr/38447238. Epub 2011 Sep 21.


As a result of the rising epidemic of obesity, understanding body fat distribution and its clinical implications is critical to timely treatment. Visceral adipose tissue is a hormonally active component of total body fat, which possesses unique biochemical characteristics that influence several normal and pathological processes in the human body. Abnormally high deposition of visceral adipose tissue is known as visceral obesity. This body composition phenotype is associated with medical disorders such as metabolic syndrome, cardiovascular disease and several malignancies including prostate, breast and colorectal cancers. Quantitative assessment of visceral obesity is important for evaluating the potential risk of development of these pathologies, as well as providing an accurate prognosis. This review aims to compare different methods of measuring visceral adiposity with emphasis on their advantages and drawbacks in clinical practice.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / diagnostic imaging*
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology*
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Obesity, Abdominal / complications
  • Plethysmography
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed