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Journal of Obesity
Volume 2012, Article ID 703941, 8 pages
Research Article

A Cross-Sectional Analysis of the Association between Physical Activity and Visceral Adipose Tissue Accumulation in a Multiethnic Cohort

1Department of Biomedical Physiology and Kinesiology, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6B 5K3
2Centre for Hip Health and Mobility, Vancouver Coastal Health Research Institute, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5Z 1M9
3Faculty of Health Sciences, Simon Fraser University, Burnaby, BC, Canada V5A 1S6
4Division of Cardiology, Providence Health Care, Vancouver, BC, Canada V6Z 1Y6

Received 6 July 2012; Revised 24 August 2012; Accepted 28 August 2012

Academic Editor: Bernhard H. Breier

Copyright © 2012 Iris A. Lesser et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Higher levels of VAT at the same body size and lower levels of physical activity (PA) have been reported in persons of Chinese and South Asian origin compared to European origin. The purpose of this study was to test the hypothesis that higher levels of VAT in persons of Chinese and South Asian origin versus European origin are associated with lower levels of PA. Chinese, European, and South Asian participants were assessed for sociodemographics, obesity-related measures, anthropometrics, and PA. Bivariate correlations, analysis of covariance, and regression models were used to explore ethnic differences in PA and the role of PA in explaining obesity-related measures. We observed ethnic differences in both body fat distribution and PA. Chinese and South Asians had higher amounts of VAT at a given BMI but lower amounts of moderate PA, vigorous PA, and moderate-to-vigorous PA (MVPA). Furthermore, we found ethnic-specific differences in the associations between body fat distribution and PA with only Europeans showing a consistent negative relationship between body fat distribution and PA. When ethnic differences in PA were taken into account, there were no longer any differences in VAT between the Chinese and European groups, while VAT remained higher in South Asians than Europeans.