Visceral Fat Mass Has Stronger Associations with Diabetes and Prediabetes than Other Anthropometric Obesity Indicators among Korean Adults

Yonsei Med J. 2016 May;57(3):674-80. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2016.57.3.674.


Purpose: This study determined which obesity measurement correlates the best with diabetes and prediabetes.

Materials and methods: This cross-sectional study enrolled 1603 subjects (611 men, 992 women; age 30-64 years) at the Cardiovascular and Metabolic Diseases Etiology Research Center. Body mass index, waist circumference, waist-height ratio, waist-hip ratio, waist-thigh ratio, and visceral fat were used as measures of obesity. Visceral fat was acquired using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA). The prevalences of diabetes and prediabetes were defined using the criteria in the American Diabetes Association 2015 guidelines.

Results: After adjusting for age and other potential confounding factors, participants with a visceral fat mass in the upper 10th percentile had a higher odds ratio (OR) for diabetes and prediabetes than the upper 10th percentile of other adiposity indices [men, OR=15.9, 95% confidence interval (CI)=6.4-39.2; women, OR=6.9, 95% CI=3.5-13.7]. Visceral fat mass also had the highest area under the curve with diabetes and prediabetes in both men (0.69, 95% CI=0.64-0.73) and women (0.70, 95% CI=0.67-0.74) compared to other anthropometric measurements of obesity.

Conclusion: Visceral fat mass measured using DXA is an indicator of diabetes or prediabetes, due to its ability to differentiate between abdominal visceral and subcutaneous fat.

Keywords: Diabetes mellitus; obesity; visceral fat.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adiposity*
  • Adult
  • Anthropometry
  • Asian People / statistics & numerical data*
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Body Mass Index
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diabetes Mellitus / ethnology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / ethnology*
  • Odds Ratio
  • Prediabetic State / ethnology*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Republic of Korea / epidemiology
  • Waist Circumference


  • Biomarkers