Effects of various exercise types on visceral adipose tissue in individuals with overweight and obesity: A systematic review and network meta-analysis of 84 randomized controlled trials

Obes Rev. 2024 Mar;25(3):e13666. doi: 10.1111/obr.13666. Epub 2023 Nov 30.


The purpose of this systematic review and network meta-analysis (NMA) of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) was to investigate the effects of various exercise categories on visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and other anthropometric variables in individuals with overweight and obesity. A total of 84 RCTs (4836 patients) were included. Aerobic exercise (AE) of at least moderate intensity, resistance training (RT), AE combined with RT (AE + RT), and high-intensity interval training (HIIT) were beneficial for reducing VAT. A subgroup analysis showed that RT improves VAT in males and those with BF% < 40% but not in females and those with body fat percentage (BF%) ≥ 40%. AE, RT, AE + RT, and HIIT significantly improved weight (except RT), total body fat (TBF), body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), and subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT). Surface under the cumulative ranking curve (SUCRA) probability ranking showed that AE with vigorous intensity and HIIT have the highest probability of being the best exercise intervention for improving VAT, weight, TBF, BMI, WC, and SAT. These findings suggest that regular exercise can improve VAT in individuals with overweight and obesity. AE of vigorous intensity and HIIT may be the best exercise treatment, and RT is the least effective intervention.

Keywords: body composition; exercise; obesity; visceral adipose tissue.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Body Mass Index
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intra-Abdominal Fat*
  • Male
  • Network Meta-Analysis
  • Obesity / therapy
  • Overweight* / therapy
  • Randomized Controlled Trials as Topic