Abdominal obesity: a marker of ectopic fat accumulation

J Clin Invest. 2015 May;125(5):1790-2. doi: 10.1172/JCI81507. Epub 2015 May 1.


In the early 1980s, we analyzed the metabolic profile of 930 men and women and concluded that an abdominal distribution of fat for a given BMI is associated with increased insulin resistance and risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The correlation between abdominal fat and metabolic dysfunction has since been validated in many studies, and waist circumference is now a criterion for the diagnosis of metabolic syndrome. Several mechanisms for this relationship have been postulated; however, we now know that visceral fat is only one of many ectopic fat depots used when the subcutaneous adipose tissue cannot accommodate excess fat because of its limited expandability.

Publication types

  • Autobiography
  • Historical Article
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipogenesis
  • Cell Size
  • Choristoma / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / pathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / prevention & control
  • Disease Susceptibility
  • Endocrinology / history
  • Female
  • History, 20th Century
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat / pathology
  • Lipolysis
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / pathology
  • Minnesota
  • Models, Biological
  • Obesity, Abdominal / genetics
  • Obesity, Abdominal / pathology*
  • Subcutaneous Fat / pathology
  • Waist Circumference
  • Waist-Hip Ratio

Personal name as subject

  • Ulf Smith