European Congress on Obesity

European Congress on Obesity

May 18, 2017
2 min read

Regular physical activity may reduce NAFLD in adults with overweight, obesity

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In adults with overweight or obesity, daily, habitual physical activity — even if not moderate to vigorous intensity — was shown to reduce nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, according to findings presented at the European Congress on Obesity.

“In these individuals, sedentary behavior and daily step counts are important determinants of the amount of liver fat and, in turn, of metabolic health status,” Kelly Bowden-Davies, MSc, a PhD student at the Institute of Ageing and Chronic Disease at the University of Liverpool, United Kingdom, and colleagues said in a press release. “These findings reinforce the role of avoiding sedentary behavior even in the absence of increased [moderate to vigorous physical activity].”

Kelly Bowden-Davies
Kelly Bowden-Davies

Bowden-Davies and colleagues analyzed data from 98 nonsmoking, healthy adults recruited through local advertisements. The cohort underwent comprehensive physical activity assessments while wearing a sensor armband (SenseWear), as well as body composition measurements via MRI and cardiorespiratory fitness using VO2 peak (mean age, 38 years; mean BMI, 25.9 kg/m²). Participants also underwent assessments for components of metabolic syndrome: central obesity, triglyceride levels at least 150 mg/dL, HDL cholesterol 40 mg/dL or lower in men and 50 mg/dL or lower in women, hypertension, and fasting plasma glucose at least 100 mg/dL. Participants were categorized as metabolically healthy if they had two or fewer components of metabolic syndrome and unhealthy if they had at least three components.

When comparing metabolically healthy vs. unhealthy adults, researchers did not observe any between-group differences in sedentary behavior, number of steps or moderate to vigorous physical activity; however, adults deemed metabolically unhealthy had lower physical fitness scores and higher levels of liver fat vs. healthy adults.

For every unit increase in liver fat percentage, odds of being metabolically unhealthy increased 37%, according to the researchers. In addition, for each hour of increased sedentary time, liver fat increased by 0.87%, whereas for every daily increase of 1,000 steps, liver fat decreased by 0.87%. There was no significant association between hours of moderate to vigorous physical activity and liver fat.

“These data have shown that the amount of time we spend engaging in structured exercise does not predict health status,” the researchers said in the release. “We reveal an emerging trend in overall physical activity levels that indicate moving about more throughout the day (for example, breaking up long periods of sitting) is perhaps more important.” – by Regina Schaffer


Bowden-Davies K, et al. Poster T2P72. European Congress on Obesity; May 17-20, 2017; Porto, Portugal.

Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.