Abdominal adiposity distribution in elite rugby union athletes using magnetic resonance imaging
- 49 Downloads
This study aimed to assess visceral adipose tissue (VAT), an established marker for cardiometabolic complications, in elite rugby union athletes, with specific consideration given to ethnicity. The ability of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry (DXA) to estimate VAT in athletic populations compared to the criterion magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) was also explored.
Thirty elite male rugby union athletes (age 23.9 ± 4.0 years; stature 186.7 ± 7.0 cm; mass 101.9 ± 11.2 kg) underwent assessment via DXA for body composition, and MRI for abdominal adiposity, at the start of the pre-season training period. Participants were ascribed a specific ethnicity when three or more of their grandparents were of either Caucasian or Polynesian descent.
MRI VAT did not differ between ethnicities (Caucasian 92.7 ± 26.7 cm2; Polynesian 86 ± 27.3 cm2; p = 0.52); however, there was a trend for forwards (96.7 ± 25.0 cm2) to have higher VAT than backs (81.7 ± 27.3 cm2; p = 0.13) which provides an area of interest for researchers. Thirty-seven percent of athletes (eight forwards, three backs) were found to have VAT > 100 cm2, a threshold for increased cardiometabolic risk within the general population. Bland–Altman analysis indicated that DXA VAT underestimated MRI VAT by ~ 25 cm2, with relatively wide limits of agreement (− 24.0 to 75.6 cm2).
Given the size of rugby union athletes, and the association between elevated VAT and cardiometabolic complications in “supersized” athletes from other sports, further investigation into VAT and other markers of cardiometabolic disease in rugby union populations is warranted. Further, DXA was found to underestimate VAT compared to the criterion MRI in this athletic population.
KeywordsPolynesian Caucasian Obesity VAT Body composition Ethnicity
Analysis of variance
Body mass index
Coefficient of variation
Dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry
Interclass correlation coefficients
Magnetic resonance imaging
National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey
National Football League, American (gridiron) football
Region of interest
Subcutaneous adipose tissue
Visceral adipose tissue
Visceral adipose tissue to subcutaneous adipose tissue ratio
SEK has received project-specific funding from Exercise and Sports Science Australia and Diabetes Australia Research Program for unrelated work. SEK is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) of Australia via an Early Career Research Fellowship (122190).
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
All authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.
All participants gave written informed consent before participating in the study. All participants provided informed consent to partake in the study, and the protocols for testing on human subjects were submitted to, and approved by, the Human Ethics Committee of the University of the Sunshine Coast (EC00297, S/12/424).
- 10.Basra SS, Pokharel Y, Hira RS, Bandeali SJ, Nambi V, Deswal A, Nasir K, Martin SS et al (2014) Relation between playing position and coronary artery calcium scores in retired National Football League players. Am J Cardiol 114(12):1836–1840. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.amjcard.2014.09.021 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 15.Lear SA, Humphries KH, Kohli S, Frohlich JJ, Birmingham CL, Mancini GB (2007) Visceral adipose tissue, a potential risk factor for carotid atherosclerosis: results of the Multicultural Community Health Assessment Trial (M-CHAT). Stroke 38(9):2422–2429. https://doi.org/10.1161/STROKEAHA.107.484113 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 19.Meyer NL, Sundgot-Borgen J, Lohman TG, Ackland TR, Stewart AD, Maughan RJ, Smith S, Muller W (2013) Body composition for health and performance: a survey of body composition assessment practice carried out by the Ad Hoc Research Working Group on Body Composition, Health and Performance under the auspices of the IOC Medical Commission. Br J Sports Med 47(16):1044–1053. https://doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2013-092561 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 21.Yamashita C, Yamazaki K, Kanesada Y, Miyawaki T, Nakayama R, Okazaki S, Komenami N (2015) Assessment of abdominal visceral fat measured by dual bioelectrical impedance analysis in rugby football players. Jpn J Fit Sports Med 64:251–259Google Scholar
- 22.Swinburn BA, Craig PL, Daniel R, Dent DP, Strauss BJ (1996) Body composition differences between Polynesians and Caucasians assessed by bioelectrical impedance. Int J Obes Relat Metab Disord 20(10):889–894Google Scholar
- 24.Ng M, Fleming T, Robinson M, Thomson B, Graetz N, Margono C, Mullany EC, Biryukov S et al (2014) Global, regional, and national prevalence of overweight and obesity in children and adults during 1980–2013: a systematic analysis for the Global Burden of Disease Study 2013. Lancet 384(9945):766–781. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(14)60460-8 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 26.Sundborn G, Metcalf PA, Gentles D, Scragg RK, Schaaf D, Dyall L, Black P, Jackson R (2008) Ethnic differences in cardiovascular disease risk factors and diabetes status for Pacific ethnic groups and Europeans in the Diabetes Heart and Health Survey (DHAH) 2002–2003, Auckland New Zealand. N Z Med J 121(1281):28–39Google Scholar
- 29.Hangartner TN, Warner S, Braillon P, Jankowski L, Shepherd J (2013) The official positions of the international society for clinical densitometry: acquisition of dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry body composition and considerations regarding analysis and repeatability of measures. J Clin Densitom 16(4):520–536. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocd.2013.08.007 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 32.Hopkins WG (2006) Spreadsheets for analysis of controlled trials with adjustment for a predictor. Sportscience 10:46–50Google Scholar
- 34.Pumpa KL, Murphy J, Corish CA, Wood-Martin RE (2012) Anthropometric and body composiiton analysis: the comparison between different positions and competition levels of successful rugby union players. Int J Body Compos Res 10(4):115–121Google Scholar
- 35.Lees MJ, Oldroyd B, Jones B, Brightmore A, O’Hara JP, Barlow MJ, Till K, Hind K (2017) Three-compartment body composition changes in professional rugby union players over one competitive season: a team and individualized approach. J Clin Densitom 20(1):50–57. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jocd.2016.04.010 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 42.Camhi SM, Bray GA, Bouchard C, Greenway FL, Johnson WD, Newton RL, Ravussin E, Ryan DH et al (2011) The relationship of waist circumference and BMI to visceral, subcutaneous, and total body fat: sex and race differences. Obesity (Silver Spring) 19(2):402–408. https://doi.org/10.1038/oby.2010.248 CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- 45.Schweitzer L, Geisler C, Pourhassan M, Braun W, Gluer CC, Bosy-Westphal A, Muller MJ (2015) What is the best reference site for a single MRI slice to assess whole-body skeletal muscle and adipose tissue volumes in healthy adults? Am J Clin Nutr 102(1):58–65. https://doi.org/10.3945/ajcn.115.111203 CrossRefGoogle Scholar