Scientist proposes that the bodies decision to promote visceral fat rather than subcutaneous fat may be due to underlying biological switches triggered partly by malnutrition.
The evolutionary advantage of visceral fat:
Sometimes called “the abdominal policeman,” a VAT-rich structure called the omentum, a loosely hanging fold of the membrane lining the abdominal cavity, sticks to wounds, foreign objects such as shrapnel and infection sites like a bandage full of antibiotics. In fact, surgeons sometimes use pieces of omentum to control severe postoperative infections. VAT surrounds the small intestine, defending the body from ingested pathogens and toxins.
In the past, the role of visceral fat as part of the immune system may have been more widely important than it is today because starvation and infections were more common. West-Eberhard proposes that in fetuses subject to nutritional stress, more energy may be stored as fat around the abdominal organs rather than as fat under the skin (subcutaneous fat or SAT).
Chronic inflammatory feedback loop promotes development of visceral fat:
In overweight individuals, a dangerous feedback loop may develop: increased VAT leads to increased chronic inflammation, which, in turn, leads to increased insulin resistance leading to further VAT storage and increased susceptibility to disease.