Visceral adiposity index (VAI) in children and adolescents with obesity: No association with daily energy intake but promising tool to identify metabolic syndrome (MetS)

Sara Vizzuso, Alberico Del Torto, Dario Dilillo, Valeria Calcaterra, Elisabetta Di Profio, Alessandro Leone, Luisa Gilardini, Simona Bertoli, Alberto Battezzati, Gian Vincenzo Zuccotti, Elvira Verduci

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


(1) Background. Visceral adiposity index (VAI) has been recently identified as a new cardiometabolic risk marker reflecting abdominal fat distribution and dyslipidaemia. The aim of the present paper was to evaluate the relationship between VAI, daily energy intake and metabolic syndrome (MetS) in a cohort of obese Caucasian children and adolescents, aged 8 to 15 years. (2) Methods. Consecutive Italian children and adolescents with obesity, according to World Health Organization were enrolled. Anthropometric parameters and blood pressure were measured. Fasting blood samples have been analyzed for lipids, insulin and glucose levels. MetS was diagnosed using identification and prevention of dietary-and lifestyle-induced health effects in children and infants (IDEFICS) or International Diabetes Federation (IDF) criteria according to age. Homeostatic model assessment index (HOMA-IR), quantitative insulin sensitivity check index (QUICKI), A body shape index (ABSI) and VAI were calculated. Multivariable logistic regression analyses with sex, age and each anthropometric parameter (body mass index (BMI) z-score, ABSI, waist-to-height ratio (WHR)) or VAI was performed to predict MetS. Receiver operation curve (ROC) analysis was used to define the optimal VAI cut-off to identify MetS. Multiple regression was performed to predict the BMI z-score and VAI from daily energy intake after adjusting for age and sex. (3) Results. Six hundred and thirty-seven (313 boys and 324 girls) children and adolescents with obesity with median age 11 (interquartile range 10–13) years were included in the analysis. MetS was diagnosed in 79 patients. VAI correlated with BMI, WHR, ABSI, HOMA-IR, QUICKI, systolic blood pressure, low-and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and triglycerides-to-HDL ratio (p < 0.050). Optimal VAI cut-off (AUC) values to identify MetS were 1.775 (0.774), 1.685 (0.776) and 1.875 (0.797) in the whole population, boys and girls, respectively. Energy intake was positively associated with BMI z-score but no association was found with VAI. (4) Conclusion. VAI is a promising tool to identify MetS in children and adolescents with obesity and should be used in the management of abdominal obesity together with dietary assessment.

Original languageEnglish
Article number413
Pages (from-to)1-15
Number of pages15
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2021


  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Pediatric obesity
  • Visceral adiposity index

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Nutrition and Dietetics


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