Indexed on: 01 Oct '10Published on: 01 Oct '10Published in: Medicine and science in sports and exercise
Weight loss induced by caloric restriction (CR) or aerobic exercise can reduce pericardial fat, and these reductions may help improve cardiovascular health.We examined whether combining CR with aerobic exercise enhances pericardial fat loss compared with a CR-only intervention designed to elicit equivalent reductions in body weight. We also examined the relationship between changes in pericardial fat and changes in maximal oxygen consumption (V˙O2max), a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness.Thirty-two abdominally obese postmenopausal women (mean age=58 yr; 78% Caucasian) were randomly assigned to one of three interventions of equal energy deficit (∼2800 kcal·wk) for 20 wk: CR only (n=8), CR + moderate-intensity exercise (n=15), or CR + vigorous-intensity exercise (n=9). The volume of pericardial fat around the coronary arteries was measured by computed tomography.Women in the CR, CR + moderate-intensity, and CR + vigorous-intensity groups had similar baseline characteristics. The mean ± SD value for pericardial fat before weight loss was 79.07 ± 32.90 cm (range=34.04-152.74 cm), with no difference among groups (P=0.89). All three interventions significantly reduced body weight (15%), waist circumference (10%), and abdominal visceral fat (28%) to a similar degree. There was also a 17% reduction in pericardial fat (-12.75 ± 6.29 cm, P<0.0001), which did not differ among groups (P=0.84). Changes in pericardial fat were inversely correlated with changes in V˙O2max (r=-0.37, P=0.05), but not after adjusting for intervention group and change in body weight.Weight loss interventions of equal energy deficit have similar effects on pericardial fat in postmenopausal women, regardless of whether the energy deficit is due to CR alone or CR plus aerobic exercise.