(HealthDay)—Visceral fat is associated with cardiometabolic risk, including metabolic syndrome, regardless of body mass index (BMI), according to a study published online Nov. 5 in JACC: Cardiovascular Imaging.

Ravi V. Shah, M.D., from Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston, and colleagues examined the differential effects of visceral fat and subcutaneous fat and their effects on risk of across BMI categories. Data were included from 1,511 individuals in the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis who underwent adiposity assessment by computed tomography (CT). Two hundred fifty-three participants without metabolic syndrome at their initial scan underwent repeat CT.

The researchers found that regardless of BMI, visceral fat correlated with cardiometabolic risk and . The correlation with incident metabolic syndrome was stronger for visceral fat than for subcutaneous fat after adjustment, regardless of weight, with a 28 percent greater risk of metabolic syndrome per 100 cm²/m visceral fat area and significant net reclassification over clinical risk (net reclassification index, 0.44). After adjustment, initial visceral fat and change in visceral fat correlated with metabolic syndrome (hazard ratio, 1.24 per 100 cm²/m and hazard ratio, 1.05 per 5 percent change). After adjustment for clinical risk and , changes in were not associated with incident metabolic syndrome.

"Visceral adiposity is essential to assessing cardiometabolic risk, regardless of age, race, or BMI, and may serve as a marker and target of therapy in cardiometabolic disease," the authors write.

Several authors disclosed financial ties to the pharmaceutical and medical device industries.