Visceral fat

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The visceral fat (from Latin viscera , the intestines), and intra- abdominal fat called, refers to the vertebrate in the free abdominal cavity embedded fat that the internal organs , especially the digestive system sheathed. It partly serves the mechanical protection of the internal organs (building fat ) and, in contrast to the subcutaneous fat tissue, is not directly visible ( thin-outside-fat-inside ), but above a certain amount it becomes noticeable through an increase in the volume of the abdomen. This storage serves as an energy reserve in the event of a lack of food.


The waist circumference serves as a measure of the visceral fat . It is measured two transverse fingers above the top of the iliac crest . Women with a waist circumference of 80 cm and above and men of 94 cm are at increased risk of cardiovascular diseases such as heart attacks and strokes as well as type 2 diabetes mellitus. Abdominal circumference of 88 cm (women) or 102 cm (men) ) the risk is even considered to be greatly increased. This is due to the high hormonal activity of the adipocytes in this adipose tissue, which has an influence on adipokines such as interleukin-6 , leptin , plasminogen activator inhibitor -1, angiotensin , resistin and tumor necrosis factor alpha , as well as adiponectin .

The waist circumference allows an indicative estimate of the statistical increase in risk due to overweight and severe overweight ( obesity ), which correlates well with the ratio of abdomen to hips . The Body Shape Index (BSI or ABSI), which has only existed since July 2012, is intended to predict health risks better than the Body Mass Index (BMI) by including particularly harmful abdominal fat in the calculation. The ratio between waist size and body size expresses the waist-to-height ratio .

Causes and effects

In view of today's oversupply of food in industrialized countries and an increasing lack of exercise, the body stores more visceral fat than is biologically sensible when eating the wrong diet (visceral obesity ). This happens in particular with overweight (pre-obesity) or obesity (obesity) of the apple type , i.e. the male fat distribution type (which also occurs in women), while with the pear type , the female fat distribution type, it is not visceral but hip fat that is increased.

Visceral fat often occurs with endocrine disorders, particularly increased cortisol and androgen levels in women, low testosterone secretion in men, and (in both men and women) low growth hormone levels .

According to the Selfish Brain Theory , abdominal fat accumulation is a possible consequence of stress for people with "stress type A", i. H. in individuals whose stress system remains highly reactive even under permanent stress.

Some conditions or symptoms associated with obesity are more commonly associated with visceral fat:

The waist circumference as a measure of the visceral fat is ascribed a better statistical prediction accuracy for the disease risk than the body mass index and the waist-hip quotient .

See also

Individual evidence

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  2. P. Björntorp (1996): The regulation of adipose tissue distribution in humans. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord. 20 (4): 291-302 PMID 8680455 (in English).
  3. Achim Peters with Sebastian Junge: Myth overweight. Why fat people live longer , C. Bertelsmann Verlag, 2013, ISBN 978-3-570-10149-0 . Kapitel What happened when slim people got a stomach? , Pp. 99-110, see pp. 104-107.
  4. HF Escobar-Morreale, JL San Millán: Abdominal adiposity and the polycystic ovary syndrome . In: Trends in Endocrinology and Metabolism: TEM . tape 18 , no. 7 , September 2007, pp. 266-72 , doi : 10.1016 / j.tem.2007.07.003 , PMID 17693095 .
  5. This is how dangerous Belly Fat is Focus, accessed November 8, 2010.