Objective: To determine whether ursodeoxycholic acid (UDCA) is effective for treatment of obesity-related liver abnormalities in children.
Study design: Thirty-one children (21 bboys; mean age, 8.7 years) had obesity-related persistent elevation of aminotransferase levels, which was associated with ultrasonographic images of bright liver in 27. A preliminary interview determined which patients were (n = 18) or were not (n = 13) likely to comply with a balanced low-calorie diet. Four subgroups emerged: patients who followed the diet (n = 11), patients treated with UDCA (10 mg/kg/d) given alone (n = 7) or added to the diet (n = 7), and untreated control patients (n = 6).
Results: Diet alone determined weight loss and resolved biochemical liver abnormalities in all patients. Addition of UDCA to the diet was no more efficacious than weight loss alone. UDCA alone was ineffective for the treatment of liver abnormalities in all cases, and results did not differ from those observed in the untreated control group. Improvement of ultrasonographic abnormalities was observed in patients who lost weight, irrespective of UDCA administration.
Conclusions: UDCA is not effective for the treatment of obesity-related liver abnormalities in children.