Lee et al described measuring subcutaneous fat in the midline as a measure of obesity. The normalized subcutaneous fat was selected over body mass index (BMI) because the latter is a relatively nonspecific assessment of body composition that does not directly measure adiposity. The authors are from the University of Michigan

Method: transverse (horizontal) cross-sectional CT of the abdomen



(1) subcutaneous fat distance in mm (from the anterior skin to the linea alba)

(2) visceral anterior-posterior distance (from the linea alba to the anterior edge of the vertebral body)


Measurements are taken from T12 to L4. Each of the above measurements was averaged over the number of measurements taken.


total anterior-posterior distance =

= (subcutaneous fat distance from anterior skin to linea alba) + (distance from linea alba to the anterior edge of vertebral body)


normalized subcutaneous fat =

= (subcutaneous fat distance in mm) / (total anterior-posterior distance in mm) * 100%


About two thirds of adult men had a normalized subcutaneous fat of 12 to 16% (with about 15% above this range).


About half of adult women had a normalized subcutaneous fat of 16 to 20% (with about a third above this range).

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