Skip to main content
ARS Home » Northeast Area » Boston, Massachusetts » Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging » Research » Publications at this Location » Publication #360911

Title: Increased diet quality is associated with long-term reduction of abdominal and pericardial fat

item HENNEIN, RACHEL - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
item LIU, CHUNYU - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
item MCKEOWN, NICOLA - Jean Mayer Human Nutrition Research Center On Aging At Tufts University
item HOFFMAN, UDO - Harvard University
item LONG, MICHELLE - Boston University
item LEVY, DANIEL - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)
item MA, JIANTAO - National Institutes Of Health (NIH)

Submitted to: Obesity
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 1/2/2019
Publication Date: 3/1/2019
Citation: Hennein, R., Liu, C., McKeown, N.M., Hoffman, U., Long, M.T., Levy, D., Ma, J. 2019. Increased diet quality is associated with long-term reduction of abdominal and pericardial fat. Obesity. 27(4):670-677.

Interpretive Summary: Fat that is deposited around our organs is called visceral adipose tissue (VAT), and the fat that surrounds our heart is called pericardial adipose tissue (PAT). Preventing excess fat accumulation in these depots therefore may be important to cardiometabolic health. A healthier diet may be linked to lower accumulation of fat in our bodies. Few studies have examined whether diet is related to changes in these fat depots over time. Using the Framingham Heart Study data, we studied the change in diet quality in relation to the change in fat depots. Because underlying genetic predisposition may be related to fat depots, we considered if diet interacted with genes to influence the accumulation of fat in our bodies. We found a higher diet quality was linked to lower fat accumulation in VAT and PAT, and this was not influenced by our genes. Improvement in diet quality may lead to less fat around organs.

Technical Abstract: Objective. We aimed to study the longitudinal associations between genetic risk, change in diet quality, and change in visceral adipose tissue (delta VAT), abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (delta SAT), and pericardial adipose tissue (delta PAT). Methods. We analyzed 1,677 Framingham Heart Study participants who had ectopic fat depots measured using computed tomography. We quantified diet quality using a Mediterranean-style diet score (MDS) and genetic risk by depot-specific genetic risk scores (GRSs). Results. Per standard deviation improvement in MDS, there was 50 cm^3 (95% CI: 14, 86; p=0.007) less fat accumulation in VAT; 52 cm^3 (95% CI: 12, 92; p=0.01) less fat accumulation in SAT; and 1.3 cm^3 (95% CI: 0.1, 2.4; p=0.04) less fat accumulation in PAT. No association was observed between GRSs and delta VAT or delta SAT. One standard deviation increase in the PAT GRS was associated with 1.2 cm^3 (95% CI: 0.1, 2.3; p=0.03) increase in delta PAT. In participants with higher PAT GRS, those with delta MDS >/= 0 had a favorable change in PAT compared to the counterparts with delta MDS <0 (p=0.008). Conclusions. Longitudinal improvements in diet quality are associated with less ectopic fat accumulation. Our study suggests that diet quality may play a critical role in improving ectopic adiposity profiles.