Prevalence, risk factors, and predictors of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease among schoolchildren: a hospital-based study in Alexandria, Egypt.Arab J Gastroenterol. 2014 Jun; 15(2):76-81.AJ
BACKGROUND AND STUDY AIMS
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is an emerging problem in children and adolescents worldwide. This study was done to investigate the prevalence of NAFLD in children and adolescents as well as to determine the associated risk factors of fatty liver and to explore the ability of some obesity indices to predict and consequently be used as a screening method of fatty liver disease at certain cutoff points in schoolchildren.
PATIENTS AND METHODS
A cross-sectional, nested case-control study was carried out. Cases and controls were randomly selected from outpatient schoolchildren aged 6-18years attending the radiology clinic at Sporting Health Insurance Paediatric Hospital in Alexandria. They were subjected to ultrasonic examination as well as complete anthropometric and laboratory measurements including fasting plasma glucose (FPG) level, fasting insulin, alanine aminotransferase (ALT) level, and lipid profile.
Fatty liver was prevalent in schoolchildren (15.8%) and increased significantly with age (p=0.004). Positive family history of diabetes mellitus (DM), hypertension (HTN), obesity, and liver disease were all statistically significant risk factors for fatty liver. Waist circumference (WC), body mass index (BMI) and its Z-score were significantly sensitive predictors. BMI was considered the best predictor of paediatric NAFLD at a cutoff=22.9. NAFLD was significantly associated with high triglycerides (TGs), low high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL), homoeostatic model assessment (HOMA) percentile, and the number of metabolic syndrome (MS) components.
Paediatric NAFLD is a substantial problem in schoolchildren and has a close relationship with obesity, dyslipidaemia, insulin resistance (IR), and consequently MS. BMI and WC can be used as useful predictors and screening tools for NAFLD in schoolchildren.