Visceral fat is excess adipose tissue deep in your abdominal cavity that wraps around your organs and plays an active role in creating an inflammatory response in the brain, triggering impaired cognitive function.

It produces inflammatory molecules that affect the microglia, or immune cells in the brain. This inflammatory effect contributes to a higher cardiovascular risk, even in those who are normal weight but with abdominal obesity.

Visceral adipose tissue is linked to depression and anxiety, which may be a secondary effect of inflammation.

Your risk can be evaluated by using your waist measurement and waist-to-hip ratio. To determine your waist-to-hip ratio you’ll want to measure both areas.

Start by measuring your waist using a cloth tape measure. Find your waist, which is your midpoint between your last rib and your iliac crest. Measure the area without pulling the tape measure too tight. Take a couple of measurements, allowing 30 seconds between each one to allow your skin and subcutaneous tissue to return to normal.

Your hip measurement is taken at the widest part of your buttocks, again without pulling the tape too tightly and taking at least two measurements for accuracy. You get your ratio by dividing your waist measurement by your hip measurement.

These are the waist-to-hip ratio norms:

  • Ideal – Men 0.8 – Women 0.7
  • Low Risk – Men <0.95 – Women <0.8
  • Moderate Risk – Men 0.96 – 0.99 – Women 0.81 – 0.84
  • High Risk – Men >1.0 – Women >0.85


Address excess visceral fat with nutrition, exercise, stress reduction, hydration and quality sleep.