Recently published data showed an association between both trunk fat mass and waist circumference and increased risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease; however, waist circumference was superior to the bioelectrical impedance analysis.
“Body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference (WC) convey insufficient information on body composition, fat distribution, and visceral fat,” the researchers wrote. “BMI’s limitations are most evident in cases of ‘lean’ but ‘metabolically unhealthy’ individuals who despite a normal BMI have increased central adiposity and predisposition to cardiometabolic complications including NAFLD. While computerized tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and DEXA are precise fat assessment methods, they are impractical for routine use.”
As a nested study within the Houston Barrett’s esophagus study, researchers compared bioelectrical impedance analysis fat measures, namely trunk fat mass and total body fat measure, between 48 patients with NAFLD and 75 controls without NAFLD. Age, sex, race and ethnicity were not different between patients and controls.
Measurements significantly associated with increased NAFLD risk after adjustment for age, sex, race and ethnicity included BMI (P = .004), total body fat mass (P = .03), waist circumference (P = .01) and trunk fat mass (P = .05). Total body fat percentage was not significant.
After further adjusting for waist circumference, researchers no longer observed a significant association between BMI, total body fat mass and total body fat with NAFLD risk, however waist circumference remained significant (P = .02).
“Both [trunk fat mass] and WC predict increased NAFLD risk. However, WC was the strongest independent predictor of NAFLD risk,” the researchers concluded. “Further work should evaluate whether newer [bioelectrical impedance analysis] technologies that have the ability to estimate visceral fat have a role for predicting NAFLD risk.” – by Talitha Bennett
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.