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Beneficial effects of lifestyle intervention in non-obese patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

  • Vincent Wai-Sun Wong
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Grace Lai-Hung Wong
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Ruth Suk-Mei Chan
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    Centre for Nutritional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Sally She-Ting Shu
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Bernice Ho-Ki Cheung
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    Centre for Nutritional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Liz Sin Li
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    Centre for Nutritional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Angel Mei-Ling Chim
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Carmen Ka-Man Chan
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Julie Ka-Yu Leung
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Winnie Chiu-Wing Chu
    Affiliations
    Department of Imaging and Interventional Radiology, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Jean Woo
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    Centre for Nutritional Studies, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
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  • Henry Lik-Yuen Chan
    Correspondence
    Corresponding author. Address: Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, 9/F, Clinical Sciences Building, Prince of Wales Hospital, 30-32 Ngan Shing Street, Shatin, Hong Kong; Tel.: +852 35051506; fax: +852 26373852.
    Affiliations
    Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong

    State Key Laboratory of Digestive Disease, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
    Search for articles by this author
Published:August 22, 2018DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jhep.2018.08.011

      Highlights

      • In this RCT, lifestyle intervention effectively led to remission of NAFLD in most non-obese and obese patients.
      • Weight reduction correlated with NAFLD remission in a dose-dependent manner.
      • The amount of weight reduction needed to achieve remission was less in non-obese patients.
      • By 6 years, non-obese patients remained more likely to maintain weight reduction and have ALT normalization.

      Background & Aims

      Around 10–20% of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are non-obese. The benefit of weight reduction in such patients is unclear. We aim to study the efficacy of lifestyle intervention in non-obese patients with NAFLD and to identify factors that predict treatment response.

      Methods

      A total of 154 community NAFLD patients were randomised to a 12-month lifestyle intervention programme involving regular exercise, or to standard care. The primary outcome was remission of NAFLD at Month 12 by proton-magnetic resonance spectroscopy. After the programme, the patients were prospectively followed until Year 6. The Asian body mass index (BMI) cut-off of 25 kg/m2 was used to define non-obese NAFLD.

      Results

      Patients were assigned to the intervention (n = 77) and control (n = 77) groups (39 and 38 in each group had baseline BMI <25 and ≥25 kg/m2, respectively). More patients in the intervention group achieved the primary outcome than the control group regardless of baseline BMI (non-obese: 67% vs. 18%, p <0.001; obese: 61% vs. 21%, p <0.001). Lifestyle intervention, lower baseline intrahepatic triglyceride, and reduction in body weight and waist circumference were independent factors associated with remission of NAFLD in non-obese patients. Half of non-obese patients achieved remission of NAFLD with 3–5% weight reduction; the same could only be achieved in obese patients with 7–10% weight reduction. By Year 6, non-obese patients in the intervention group remained more likely to maintain weight reduction and alanine aminotransferase normalisation than the control group.

      Conclusions

      Lifestyle intervention is effective in treating NAFLD in both non-obese and obese patients. Weight reduction predicts remission of NAFLD in non-obese patients, but a modest weight reduction may be sufficient in this population.

      Lay summary

      Some patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are non-obese. The optimal management of such patients is unclear. In this long-term follow-up study of a clinical trial, we show that remission of NAFLD can be achieved in 67% of non-obese patients after lifestyle intervention. The majority of patients can achieve NAFLD remission with modest weight loss of 3–10%. Non-obese patients are also more likely than obese patients to maintain weight reduction and normal liver enzymes in the long run.

      Graphical abstract

      Keywords

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