Obese children with fatty liver: Between reality and disease mongering.World J Gastroenterol 2017; 23(47):8277-8282WJ
Following the current epidemic of obesity, the worldwide prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has increased with potential serious health implications. While it is established that in adults NAFLD can progress to end-stage liver disease in many cases, the risk of progression during childhood is less well defined. Since most obese children are not adherent to lifestyle modifications and hypocaloric diets, there is a growing number of studies on pharmacological interventions with the risk of disease mongering, the practice of widening the boundaries of illness in order to expand the markets for treatment. Here, we propose a critical appraisal of the best available evidence about long-term course of pediatric NAFLD and efficacy of treatments other than hypocaloric diet and physical exercise. As a result, the number of NAFLD children with a poor outcome is small in spite of the alarming tones used in some papers; large-scale longitudinal studies with long-term follow-up of pediatric NAFLD patients are lacking; the studies on ancillary pharmacological interventions have been performed in few patients with inconclusive and conflicting results.