Treatment for Abdominal Obesity in Adults

Abdominal obesity, an accumulation of fat in the abdominal region, is a risk factor for several non-communicable diseases. This review aims to identify non-surgical treatment options for abdominal obesity in adults. Interventions with behavioral, dietary, physical activity, or pharmaceutical components were compared to control conditions.


A systematic literature research for randomized controlled trials was conducted in Medline, Embase, and the Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials according to a prespecified and registered protocol (PROSPERO CRD42017057898).


Out of 2954 articles, 15 studies with 2918 participants remained after applying inclusion and exclusion criteria. Altogether the programs achieved a –2.65cm (95% confidence interval (CI) [–3.77, –1.53]) reduction in waist circumference (WC), as a measure of abdominal obesity. Eight behavioral interventions reduced WC by –1.88cm (95% CI [–2.55, –1.22]), and six combined interventions with behavioral plus dietary and/or physical activity components by –4.11cm (95% CI [–6.17, –2.05]). The only pharmaceutical trial did not find any effect on WC.


Overall, the identified interventions showed a moderate effect on WC. One reason may be that in most studies WC was a secondary outcome parameter, while only a small number of interventions primarily targeted abdominal obesity. Further research regarding the treatment of abdominal obesity is urgently needed.

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