Prevalence of and risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease: the Dionysos nutrition and liver study

Hepatology. 2005 Jul;42(1):44-52. doi: 10.1002/hep.20734.


The prevalence of and the risk factors for fatty liver have not undergone a formal evaluation in a representative sample of the general population. We therefore performed a cross-sectional study in the town of Campogalliano (Modena, Italy), within the context of the Dionysos Project. Of 5,780 eligible persons aged 18 to 75 years, 3,345 (58%) agreed to participate in the study. Subjects with suspected liver disease (SLD), defined on the basis of elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) and gamma-glutamyl-transferase (GGT) activity, hepatitis B surface antigen (HBsAg), or hepatitis C virus (HCV)-RNA positivity, were matched with randomly selected subjects of the same age and sex without SLD. A total of 311 subjects with and 287 without SLD underwent a detailed clinical, laboratory, and anthropometrical evaluation. Fatty liver was diagnosed by ultrasonography, and alcohol intake was assessed by using a 7-day diary. Multinomial logistic regression was used to detect risk factors for normal liver versus nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and for alcoholic fatty liver (AFLD) versus NAFLD. The prevalence of NAFLD was similar in subjects with and without SLD (25 vs. 20%, P = .203). At multivariable analysis, normal liver was more likely than NAFLD in older subjects and less likely in the presence of obesity, hyperglycemia, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriglyceridemia, and systolic hypertension; AFLD was more likely than NAFLD in older subjects, males, and in the presence of elevated GGT and hypertriglyceridemia, and less likely in the presence of obesity and hyperglycemia. In conclusion, NAFLD is highly prevalent in the general population, is not associated with SLD, but is associated with many features of the metabolic syndrome.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Chronic Disease
  • Comorbidity
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Liver Diseases / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / epidemiology
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Risk Factors