CT-derived body fat distribution and incident cardiovascular disease: The multi-ethnic study of atherosclerosis

Morgana Mongraw-Chaffin, Matthew A. Allison, Gregory L. Burke, Michael H. Criqui, Kunihiro Matsushita, Pamela Ouyang, Ravi V. Shah, Christina M. Shay, Cheryl A.M. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Background: Visceral fat has been shown to be associated with increased cardiometabolic risk, but the role of subcutaneous fat remains unclear, and evidence from diverse populations is lacking. We hypothesized that visceral fat, but not subcutaneous fat, would be independently associated with incident cardiovascular disease (CVD) and all-cause mortality. Methods: Among 1910 participants from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis with abdominal fat measurements from computed tomography scans and followed for an average of 9.3 years, we used multivariable Cox proportional hazards models to investigate the relationship of both visceral and subcutaneous fat tertiles with CVD and all-cause mortality. We tested for interaction and performed sensitivity analysis for subgroups and missing values of visceral fat. Results: Participants had mean age of 65 years, visceral fat 150 cm2, subcutaneous fat 263 cm2, and 50% were female, 21% African American, 13% Asian, and 26% Hispanic. In models adjusted for age, sex, race/ethnicity, income, education, smoking, and subcutaneous fat, there was a statistically significant positive association between visceral fat and CVD, but not mortality. The association for combined CVD may be driven by incident coronary heart disease [tertile 2: hazard ratio, 2.43 (1.38 to 4.28); tertile 3: hazard ratio, 3.00 (1.66 to 5.43)]. Additionally, we found no substantial associations between subcutaneous fat and CVD or mortality. There were no statistically significant interactions by age, sex, or race/ethnicity. Conclusions: Visceral fat, but not subcutaneous fat, is significantly associated with increased risk for CVD in amultiethnic cohort. These data support the need for effective strategies for lifestyle changes that prevent and reduce visceral fat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4173-4183
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism
Issue number11
StatePublished - 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Biochemistry
  • Endocrinology
  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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