The perils of portliness: causes and consequences of visceral adiposity.
Although an individual's total fat mass predicts morbidities such as coronary artery disease and diabetes, the anatomical distribution of adipose tissue is a strong and independent predictor of such adverse health outcomes. Thus, obese individuals with most of their fat stored in visceral adipose depots generally suffer greater adverse metabolic consequences than similarly overweight subjects with fat stored predominantly in subcutaneous sites. A fuller understanding of the biology of central obesity will require information regarding the genetic and environmental determinants of human fat topography and of the molecular mechanisms linking visceral adiposity to degenerative metabolic and vascular disease. Here we attempt to summarize the growing body of data relevant to these key areas and, in particular, to illustrate how recent advances in adipocyte biology are providing the basis for new pathophysiological insights.