Obesity is a global epidemic and a comorbidity for many diseases. We are using MRI to characterize obesity in rodents, especially with regard to visceral fat. Rats were scanned on a 1.5T clinical scanner, and a T1W, water-spoiled image (fat only) was divided by a matched T1W image (fat + water) to yield a ratio image related to the lipid content in each voxel. The ratio eliminated coil sensitivity inhomogeneity and gave flat values across a fat pad, except for outlier voxels (> 1.0) due to motion. Following sacrifice, fat pad volumes were dissected and measured by displacement in canola oil. In our study of 6 lean (SHR), 6 dietary obese (SHR-DO), and 9 genetically obese rats (SHROB), significant differences in visceral fat volume was observed with an average of 29±16 ml increase due to diet and 84±44 ml increase due to genetics relative to lean control with a volume of 11±4 ml. Subcutaneous fat increased 14±8 ml due to diet and 198±105 ml due to genetics relative to the lean control with 7±3 ml. Visceral fat strongly correlated between MRI and dissection (R2 = 0.94), but MRI detected over five times the subcutaneous fat found with error-prone dissection. Using a semi-automated images segmentation method on the ratio images, intra-subject variation was very low. Fat pad composition as estimated from ratio images consistently differentiated the strains with SHROB having a greater lipid concentration in adipose tissues. Future work will include in vivo studies of diet versus genetics, identification of new phenotypes, and corrective measures for obesity; technical efforts will focus on correction for motion and automation in quantification.