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Reference Values for DXA-Derived Visceral Adipose Tissue in Adults 40 Years and Older from a European Population: The Tromsø Study 2015–2016

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Background. Reference values for visceral adipose tissue (VAT) are needed and it has been advocated that body composition measures depend on both the technique and methods applied, as well as the population of interest. We aimed to develop reference values for VAT in absolute grams (VATg), percent (VAT%), and as a kilogram-per-meters-squared index (VATindex) for women and men, and investigate potential differences between these measures and their associations with cardiometabolic risk factors (including metabolic syndrome (MetS)). Methods. In the seventh survey of the population-based Tromsø Study, 3675 participants (aged 40–84, 59% women) attended whole-body DXA scans (Lunar Prodigy GE) from where VAT was derived. We used descriptive analysis, correlations, receiver operating characteristics (ROC), and logistic regression to propose reference values for VAT and investigated VAT’s association with cardiometabolic risk factors, MetS and single MetS components. Further, Youden’s index was used to suggest threshold values for VAT. Results. VATg and VATindex increased until age 70 and then decreased, while VAT% increased with age across all age groups. VAT (all measurement units) was moderate to highly correlated and significantly associated with all cardiometabolic risk factors, except for total cholesterol. Associations between MetS, single MetS components, and VATg and VATindex were similar, and VAT% did not contribute any further to this association. Conclusion. These VAT reference values and thresholds, developed in a sample of adults of Norwegian origin, could be applied to other studies with similar populations using the same DXA device and protocols. The associations between VAT and cardiometabolic risk factors were similar across different measurement units of VAT.


Funder: Universitetet i Tromsø; doi:


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Journal of Obesity

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National Institute for Health Research (IS-BRC-1215-20014)
Troms County (TFK 2016–058)