This paper in PNAS reports findings that expression levels of several genes in human adipose tissue are predictive of BMI and/or WHR.
Evidence for a role of developmental genes in the origin of obesity and body fat distribution
Stephane Gesta, C. Ronald Kahn et al.
Published online before print April 14, 2006
Abstract: Obesity, especially central obesity, is a hereditable trait associated with a high risk for development of diabetes and metabolic disorders. Combined gene expression analysis of adipocyte- and preadipocyte-containing fractions from intraabdominal and subcutaneous adipose tissue of mice revealed coordinated depot-specific differences in expression of multiple genes involved in embryonic development and pattern specification. These differences were intrinsic and persisted during in vitro culture and differentiation. Similar depot-specific differences in expression of developmental genes were observed in human subcutaneous versus visceral adipose tissue. Furthermore, in humans, several genes exhibited changes in expression that correlated closely with body mass index and/or waist/hip ratio. Together, these data suggest that genetically programmed developmental differences in adipocytes and their precursors in different regions of the body play an important role in obesity, body fat distribution, and potential functional differences between internal and subcutaneous adipose tissue.