To investigate temporal trends of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and obesity among hospitalized US children, adolescents, and young adults over the past 2 decades and to examine potential sex disparities in NAFLD hospitalizations.
Hospitalization discharges with NAFLD or obesity were identified among children and young adults (6-25 years, weighted n = 91,687,413) from the 1986 to 2006 National Hospital Discharge Survey data. Age- and sex-specific rates and trends in hospitalizations with NAFLD and obesity were estimated. Rates were standardized to age distribution of the 2000 US Census population. Sex disparities were examined for the most recent period 2004 to 2006 (weighted n = 12,969,532).
Between 1986 to 1988 and 2004 to 2006, hospitalizations with NAFLD diagnosis increased from 0.9 to 4.3/100,000 population (P < 0.001). During the same time, hospitalizations with a diagnosis of obesity increased from 35.5 to 114.7/100,000 population (P < 0.001). During 2004 to 2006, hospitalization rates with a diagnosis of NAFLD were higher among females than among males (5.9 vs 2.7/100,000 population, P < 0.001), as were hospitalizations with a diagnosis of obesity (140.8 vs 61.5/100,000 population, P < 0.001). Obesity and diabetes were reported in 43.3% and 31.9%, respectively, of discharges with NAFLD.
The prevalence of NAFLD among young hospitalized patients increased in the past 2 decades, paralleling obesity-related hospitalizations. This could be a consequence of the obesity epidemic or of increased screening for liver disease.