Adipose Tissue Around Your Organs

Adipose tissue, also known as fat tissue, is connective tissue where energy is stored primarily as triglycerides. Adipose tissue helps to cushion and insulate the body. The tissue is made up of adipocytes and can be found under the skin (subcutaneous adipose tissue) or around the organs (visceral adipose tissue).

Midsection Of Woman Holding Belly Fat
RUNSTUDIO / Getty Images

Definition and Function

The fat that you carry on your body has a scientific name. It's called adipose tissue. And even though some people would like to reduce the amount of adipose tissue that they carry, adipose tissue is important for a healthy body. For example, fatty tissue provides:

  • Insulation: Adipose tissue helps to insulate your body. This heat insulation keeps your body warm when you are exposed to cold temperatures.
  • Protection: Adipose tissue cushions and protects your organs, bones and other tissues from damage.
  • Energy storage: Your body stores unused energy (calories) in adipose tissue. When you are fasting, dieting, or unable to eat, your body releases the stored energy to maintain all of its important functions. 
  • Hormone production: Several important hormones, including leptin, are produced and released by your adipose tissue. Leptin is a hormone that sends signals to stop eating.


You have different types of adipose tissue on your body. Each kind of adipose tissue works differently.

  • White adipose tissue: White adipose tissue (WAT) provides your body with energy, insulation, and protection, and is generally found around the hips, thighs, belly, or buttocks.
  • Brown adipose tissue. A small amount of fat in your body is brown adipose tissue (BAT). Brown fat has thermogenic properties. That's a scientific way of saying that brown fat burns fat to produce heat. Researchers are studying ways to use brown fat for weight loss.
  • Beige adipose tissue. Researchers who study brown fat sometimes refer to "beige fat." Beige fat cells are essentially brown fat cells that reside within the white fat tissue. Beige fat may also hold promise in the fight against obesity.

It is important to have enough adipose tissue on your body to stay healthy. But too much fat—or adipose tissue—causes obesity and puts you at risk for several different medical conditions including heart disease, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes.

Monitoring Adipose Tissue

So how do you make sure you have enough fatty tissue to stay healthy but not enough to put your health at risk? There are different ways to measure fat in your body. Some methods can be performed in the privacy of your own home, some are performed at a gym or health club, and some require a clinical setting like a hospital or laboratory.

Some of the more popular methods include:

  • DeXA (dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry) is performed in a medical setting by a skilled clinician.
  • Hydrostatic weighing is performed in a lab where your body is submerged underwater.
  • BIA (bioelectrical impedance analysis) is a feature offered on many home scales that provide weight, body fat percent, and other numbers.
  • Skin calipers are used to pinch adipose tissue in certain areas of your body. Based on the numbers, a skilled practitioner can estimate the amount of fatty tissue on your frame.

Once you know how much lean mass and adipose or fatty tissue you carry, you can take steps to lose or maintain your weight for improved health and wellness.

Verywell Health uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  • Cypess AM, Kahn CR. The role and importance of brown adipose tissue in energy homeostasis. Current Opinion in Pediatrics August 2010.

  • Trayhurn P1, Beattie JH. Physiological role of adipose tissue: white adipose tissue as an endocrine and secretory organ. The Proceedings of the Nutrition Society. August 2001.

By Jennifer R. Scott
Jennifer R. Scott is a weight loss writer. She designed her own successful weight loss plan, which helped her safely lose 50 pounds in about a year.