A new study published in the Journal of Hepatology suggests that children with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have a higher prevalence of abnormal glucose tolerance (prediabetes and diabetes) than those without NAFLD.
In addition, children with NAFLD and abnormal glucose tolerance have a higher prevalence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) than those with normal glucose tolerance. The study highlights the role of central adiposity as the strongest predictor of NASH.
Researchers recruited 599 children and adolescents aged 5-17 years (298 boys and 301 girls) with NAFLD and 118 obese children/adolescents without NAFLD.
The data revealed an abnormal glucose tolerance prevalence of 20.6 per cent among children with NAFLD versus 11 per cent in those without NAFLD (P=.02). The presence of prediabetes/diabetes was associated with a two-fold increased risk of NASH (OR 2.19; 95% CI 1.47-3.29; P<.001 however this association was attenuated after adjustment for age sex and waist circumference ci p=".032).</p">
The authors said the findings "emphasise the importance of lifestyle modifications to improve diet and increase physical activity, as the first-line treatment for all children/adolescents with NAFLD not only for improving liver disease severity, but also for reducing obesity-related metabolic complications (such as abnormal glucose tolerance) in childhood and adolescence."