Estimation of CT-derived abdominal visceral and subcutaneous adipose tissue depots from anthropometry in Europeans, South Asians and African Caribbeans

PLoS One. 2013 Sep 17;8(9):e75085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0075085. eCollection 2013.


Background: South Asians and African Caribbeans experience more cardiometabolic disease than Europeans. Risk factors include visceral (VAT) and subcutaneous abdominal (SAT) adipose tissue, which vary with ethnicity and are difficult to quantify using anthropometry.

Objective: We developed and cross-validated ethnicity and gender-specific equations using anthropometrics to predict VAT and SAT.

Design: 669 Europeans, 514 South Asians and 227 African Caribbeans (70 ± 7 years) underwent anthropometric measurement and abdominal CT scanning. South Asian and African Caribbean participants were first-generation migrants living in London. Prediction equations were derived for CT-measured VAT and SAT using stepwise regression, then cross-validated by comparing actual and predicted means.

Results: South Asians had more and African Caribbeans less VAT than Europeans. For basic VAT prediction equations (age and waist circumference), model fit was better in men (R(2) range 0.59-0.71) than women (range 0.35-0.59). Expanded equations (+ weight, height, hip and thigh circumference) improved fit for South Asian and African Caribbean women (R(2) 0.35 to 0.55, and 0.43 to 0.56 respectively). For basic SAT equations, R(2) was 0.69-0.77, and for expanded equations it was 0.72-0.86. Cross-validation showed differences between actual and estimated VAT of <7%, and SAT of <8% in all groups, apart from VAT in South Asian women which disagreed by 16%.

Conclusion: We provide ethnicity- and gender-specific VAT and SAT prediction equations, derived from a large tri-ethnic sample. Model fit was reasonable for SAT and VAT in men, while basic VAT models should be used cautiously in South Asian and African Caribbean women. These equations will aid studies of mechanisms of cardiometabolic disease in later life, where imaging data are not available.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adiposity*
  • Aged
  • Anthropometry / methods
  • Asians
  • Blacks
  • Body Composition
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / anatomy & histology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Models, Anatomic
  • Reproducibility of Results
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors
  • Subcutaneous Fat / anatomy & histology*
  • Tomography, X-Ray Computed*
  • Whites