1. In this systematic review and meta-analysis, both exercise and caloric restriction were associated with reductions in visceral fat in overweight individuals. The effect of exercise on visceral fat was dose-dependent, while the impact of caloric restriction was not.
2. However, both exercise and caloric restriction showed a dose-dependent effect in reducing waist circumference.
Evidence Rating Level: 1 (Excellent)
Exercise and caloric restriction are important lifestyle behaviors that aid in weight loss for overweight individuals. Currently, their effect in reducing visceral fat while controlling for the weekly energy deficit created by these interventions remains unknown. As a result, the objective of the present study was to compare the dose-response relationship between exercise and caloric restriction on visceral fat loss in overweight and obese adults.
Of 7816 identified records, 40 (n=2190) studies were included from various databases from database inception to January 2022. Studies were included if they compared exercise or caloric restriction with relevant controls in overweight or obese adults, as defined by the WHO cut-off scores for body mass index (BMI). Studies were excluded if they assessed visceral fat mass using methods other than computerized tomography (CT) or magnetic resonance imagining (MRI). The review was performed using PRISMA guidelines. Risk of bias was assessed using Cochrane’s Risk of Bias 2 tool. Statistical analyses were performed using meta-regression. The primary outcome was the change in visceral fat measured by CT or MRI.
The results demonstrated that, although both exercise and caloric restriction were associated with decreased visceral fat mass, only exercise demonstrated a dose-dependent effect. However, both interventions had a dose-dependent effect on waist circumference. The study was limited by the greater proportion of included studies evaluating exercise than caloric restriction, which may have undermined the effects of caloric restriction. Nonetheless, the present study supported the notion that increased exercise may decrease visceral fat and waist circumference in overweight and obese individuals.
Click to read the study in British Journal of Sports Medicine
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