How to Measure Visceral Fat

Visceral fat is the fat or stuff that covers abdominal organs. Amounts of visceral fat stuck to lever, heart and pancreas can vary in different individuals. Visceral fat or visceral adipose tissue (VAT) is also reputed as ‘active’  because it doesn’t just sit inactively. This fat releases acids that get metabolized by liver and cause hormone related problems such as insulin resistance. High amount of visceral fat can lead to too much fat in bloodstream causing type 2 diabetes and hyperlipidaemia. High levels of visceral fat are also linked with pancreatitis, cardiovascular problems, fatty liver, gall bladder disease,  certain cancers and Alzheimer’s disease. Assessing overall weight of human body does not help determine amount of visceral fat. A person who is slim can still have dangerous amount of visceral fat.

Measuring Visceral Fat

There are different methods of measuring visceral fat. Some of the methods may require clinical assistance and medical intervention.  

MRI/CT scans

MRI or CT scans are considered to be the ‘gold standard’ for measurement of visceral fat management. These methods require sophisticated medical equipments and skilled medical supervision. They are expansive and not everyone can afford them. Nonetheless, CT scans and MRI are the only methods that can accurately help determine the amount of visceral fat.


Ultrasonography uses high-frequency sound waves to assess organs inside the body. Ultrasonography can measure visceral fat reliably. When compared to CT scan, ultrasonography yields accuracy of 85.8% for women and 91.3% for men, which is highly satisfactory assessment for a procedure that last less than thirty seconds. The other good thing is that ultrasonography does not use radiation. It is a good alternative to CT scans and MRI.

Bioelectrical Impedance Devices (BID)

To get amount of visceral fat measured by Bioelectrical Impedance Devices, a person needs to make an appointment with a nurse or relevant professional at health centre. Bioelectrical impedance devices are high-tech scales purchased and used privately. These scales are validated clinically and classified as medical equipments. BID has high possibilities to be used by public for accurate method of body composition analysis, as pointed out in a study funded by Omron, which invested heavily in medical technology studies. The same study also pointed out that in order to raise levels of accuracy of the scales, the manufacturers should include a function within the device allowing weight, height, age, BMI and ethnicity of users to be analyzed as part of the algorithm.

The Tape Measure Test

This method to measure visceral fat costs nothing. Dietitians usually recommend tape measure test. This method gives a good idea of what percentage of abdominal fat is visceral fat and what percentage is subcutaneous which is stored beneath the skin. Following is how to take these measurements.

First comes measurement of circumference of both hips and waist at their widest points. Second is to divide waist measurement by hip measurement. When the ratio is higher than 0.85 for women and 1.0 for men, then the level of fat is considered too much. A ratio of 36/40 for men is good; some of the fat may be subcutaneous. There is more of this measurement to get better measurement of visceral fat. This involves measuring stomach while standing up and measuring stomach again when lying down. Unlike subcutaneous fat, visceral fat does not move. The difference between lying down and standing up measurement reveals how much of stomach fat is visceral fat.

Once the level of visceral fat is assessed, a person needs to focus on how to burn the extra fat. Consumption of foods that contain lots of soluble fiber can help burn abdominal fat. Foods such as legumes, Brussels sprouts (cooked), avocado, oatbran, oats and passion fruit are high in fiber content. Controlling what we eat is useful but it is not going to be enough in reducing visceral fat. Regular exercise is highly useful in getting rid of dangerous levels of visceral fat. Regular exercise that suits physical ability and age is good and can help reduce visceral fat significantly.  

Last update: July 09, 2017 08:36:57 pm

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