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Blacks Have Less 'Bad Fat' Than Whites
Date:12/18/2009

It's a puzzle, because less visceral fat should mean less obesity-linked disease, experts say

FRIDAY, Dec. 18 (HealthDay News) -- Blacks tend to carry around less of a particularly unhealthy type of abdominal fat than whites, even though they suffer more from obesity-linked illness, researchers report.

The new finding suggests that body-mass index (BMI) guidelines may need to be tailored to specific racial groups to better reflect risk, experts say.

"The study clearly shows we have these racial differences in body fat, not just in the type of body fat but where the fat is stored, and these are important differences," said study author Peter Katzmarzyk, a professor of population science at Pennington Biomedical Research Center in Baton Rouge, La.

Adipose (fat) tissue is found throughout the body. Subcutaneous adipose tissue is found just under the skin, while visceral adipose tissue is found in the abdominal cavity around the organs.

Fat settling around the organs has been linked to development of obesity-related diseases such as cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes, according to background information in the article.

But you can't tell just by looking at someone how much visceral fat someone has. Even a pot belly won't tell you for sure because visceral fat is deep within the body cavity, Katzmarzyk said.

In the study, researchers used computer tomography (CT scans) and dual- energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to measure visceral fat in about 1,400 white men and women and 570 black men and women aged 18 to 84. Participants' height, weight, BMI and total body fat composition were also measured.

At a given body fat percentage, black men and women had lower visceral fat than white men and women. Conversely, blacks also tended to have higher subcutaneous fat than whites. Researchers controlled for age and smoking status, among other variables.

The study appears
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