Relationship Between Changes in Fat and Lean Depots Following Weight Loss and Changes in Cardiovascular Disease Risk Markers
Journal of the American Heart Association 7(8)
Gluteofemoral fat mass has been associated with improved cardiovascular disease risk factors. It is not clear if loss of this protective fat during weight loss partially negates the effect of loss of visceral fat. The aim of this study was to examine regional fat loss in a large weight-loss cohort from one center and to determine if fat loss in the leg and total lean tissue loss is harmful. We combined the data from 7 of our previously published 3-month weight-loss studies and examined the relationship between regional fat and lean tissue loss and changes in cardiovascular disease risk factors in 399 participants. At baseline, leg fat was positively associated with high-density lipoprotein cholesterol in women and inversely with fasting triglyceride level in both sexes. Abdominal lean tissue was also related to systolic blood pressure in men. Changes in regional fat and lean tissue were positively associated with changes in glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, triglycerides, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol and systolic and diastolic blood pressure (r=0.11-0.22, P<0.05) with leg fat and arm lean tissue dominating in multivariate regression. After adjustment for total weight or total fat change, these relationships disappeared except for a positive relationship between arm and lean leg mass loss and changes in triglycerides and systolic blood pressure. Loss of leg fat and leg lean tissue was directly associated with beneficial changes in cardiovascular disease risk markers. Loss of lean tissue may not have an adverse effect on cardiovascular disease risk, and measures to retain lean tissue during weight loss may not be necessary.