One of the biggest health issues for obese people is visceral (or abdominal) fat. Visceral fat is the fat tissue between the organs in the abdomen. It is a major health concern because there is a strong correlation between high levels of visceral fat and the incidence of cardiovascular diseases, such as heart disease, hypertension and diabetes.
The study of Vissers et al. (2009) involved 79 obese adults (61 of whom completed the study), who were randomly divided into 4 groups:
- Group 1 received a hypocaloric (low in calories) diet only program (DIET).
- Group 2 received a hypocaloric diet plus fitness program (cardio and weights exercises) (FITNESS).
- Group 3 received a hypocaloric diet and progressive Power Plate machine program (see figure 1) (Power Plate)
- Group 4 made no changes to their lifestyle (CONTROL).
Each group followed the intervention for six months and had a six month ‘no intervention’ follow up. The anthropometric data, body composition and metabolic features were measured at three, six and 12 months. One measurement performed was the determination of visceral fat tissue.
In all three intervention groups (DIET, FITNESS and Power Plate) bodyweight decreased significantly, by 5-10%, which is the international standard for a real impact on health, in measurements taken after the 6 intervention months. Only the FITNESS and Power Plate groups managed to maintain their weight loss of 5% or more in the six ‘no intervention’ months (see figure 1). The Power Plate group even maintained a weight loss of over 10 %. The mean weight in the Power Plate group was 95.2 kg, in which case 10% means that they lost 9.5 kg of their body weight, which is a considerable amount and is regarded to be significant enough to improve health.
The main difference between the Power Plate group and other groups is in the decrease of visceral fat that occurred. As illustrated in figure 2, the Power Plate group lost twice as much visceral fat after six months, when compared to the FITNESS and DIET groups. The decrease in visceral fat also remained at the same level in the Power Plate group after 12 months, while the DIET and FITNESS groups returned to their baseline values after 12 months.
One possible explanation for why the Power Plate group did not return to baseline values as the other groups did after 12 months may be related to the hormonal changes that Power Plate training may cause. An animal study (Rubin et al. 2007) showed that vibration caused the adipogenesis (creation of fat cells) in mice to drop by 27%. Therefore the vibration prevented the creation of new fat cells. The underlying principles of these possible changes in humans aren’t exactly clear yet, but research is currently being conducted into this.