Background/objectives: We investigated whether fat mass (FM) and total adipose tissue (TAT) can be used interchangeably and FM per TAT adds to metabolic risk assessment.
Subjects/methods: Cross-sectional data were assessed in 377 adults (aged 18-60 years; 51.2% women). FM was measured by either 4-compartment (4C) model or quantitative magnetic resonance (QMR); total-, subcutaneous- and visceral adipose tissue (TAT, SAT, VAT), and liver fat by whole-body MRI; leptin, insulin, homeostasis model assessment of insulin resistance (HOMA-IR), C-reactive protein (CRP), and triglycerides; resting energy expenditure and respiratory quotient by indirect calorimetry were determined. Correlations and stepwise multivariate regression analyses were performed.
Results: FM4C and FMQMR were associated with TAT (r4C = 0.96, rQMR = 0.99) with a mean FM per TAT of 0.85 and 1.01, respectively. Regardless of adiposity, there was a considerable inter-individual variance of FM/TAT-ratio (FM4C/TAT-ratio: 0.77-0.94; FMQMR/TAT-ratio: 0.89-1.10). Both, FM4C and TAT were associated with metabolic risks. Further, FM4C/TAT-ratio was positively related to leptin but inversely with CRP. There was no association between FM4C/TAT-ratio and VAT/SAT or liver fat. FM4C/TAT-ratio added to the variance of leptin and CRP.
Conclusions: Independent of FM or TAT, FM4C/TAT-ratio adds to metabolic risk assessment. Therefore, the interchangeable use of FM and TAT to assess metabolic risks is questionable as both parameters may complement each other.