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Strong link between accumulated visceral fat and chronic inflammation.

A person’s waist-to-hip ratio compares their waist measurement to that of their hips. A high ratio can be an indicator of excess fat accumulation around the waist, often referred to as visceral fat. Findings from a 2005 study suggest that visceral fat is associated with markers of inflammation.

Visceral fat is stored in the abdominal cavity near the liver, pancreas, and intestines. The accumulation of visceral fat is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular disease and other chronic diseases. Many factors drive visceral fat accumulation, including poor sleep, an obesogenic diet, and sugar-sweetened beverage intake, among others.

The study involved more than 3,000 healthy males and females (18 to 89 years old) living in Greece. The investigators calculated the participants' body mass index (BMI) and measured their waist and hip circumferences. Participants provided blood samples for the assessment of inflammatory biomarkers, including C-reactive protein (CRP), tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha), amyloid A (an apolipoprotein secreted in the acute stage of inflammation), white blood cells, and interleukin-6 (IL-6).

The investigators found that approximately 36 percent of the males and 43 percent of the females had excess visceral fat. Approximately 20 percent of the males and 15 percent of the females had obesity. Participants with greater visceral fat had 53 percent higher CRP, 30 percent higher TNF-alpha), 26 percent amyloid A, 17 percent higher white blood cell counts, and 42 percent higher IL-6, compared to participants with normal fat distribution. The relationship between visceral fat and inflammatory markers was stronger than that between obesity and inflammation, even when considering the participants' age, income, education, and other potential confounding factors.

These findings suggest that visceral fat and inflammatory processes are linked. The investigators posited that excess accumulation of visceral fat may increase the risk for cardiovascular disease by driving inflammation.

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