Modelling Body Composition with Special Attention to Visceral and Subcutaneous Adiposity

The internship research focuses on the regulation of human body composition as expressed by the ratio of lean body mass to total fat mass, a quantitative description of which is relevant to the management of obesity. Special attention will be paid to the distinction between visceral fat, which is associated with increased risk of heart disease and type 2 Diabetes, and subcutaneous fat, which imparts less risk for these conditions. Recently, a large database of body composition data, segregated by gender and race, was collected, incorporating information on both visceral and subcutaneous fat. Based on this data, the team will (1) extend an existing mathematical model (with two compartments, one for lean body mass and one for total fat mass) to account for potential differences of body composition regulation between racial groups and genders, and (2) expand the model to account for both the visceral and subcutaneous fat compartments. This research will allow predictions about rates of gain or loss of the comparatively hazardous visceral fat compartment in different populations, which may then be used to direct dietary and weight-loss therapy.

Diana White
Faculty Supervisor: 
Dr. Gerda de Vries