Metabolic correlates of nonalcoholic fatty liver in women and men

Hepatology. 2007 Sep;46(3):716-22. doi: 10.1002/hep.21727.


Nonalcoholic hepatic steatosis associates with a clustering of metabolic risk factors and steatohepatitis. One risk factor for hepatic steatosis is obesity, but other factors likely play a role. We examined metabolic concomitants of hepatic steatosis in nonobese and obese men and women. Sixty-one obese women and 35 obese men were studied; both those with and without hepatic steatosis were compared against each other and against nonobese controls (17 women and 32 men) without hepatic steatosis. Obesity (defined as >or=25% body fat in men and >or=35% in women), was identified by x-ray absorptiometry, whereas hepatic steatosis (>or=5.5% liver fat) was detected by magnetic resonance spectroscopy. The primary endpoint was a difference in insulin sensitivity. Obese groups with and without steatosis had similar body fat percentages. Compared with obese women without hepatic steatosis, those with steatosis were more insulin resistant; the same was true for men, although differences were less striking. Obese subjects with hepatic steatosis had higher ratios of truncal-to-lower body fat and other indicators of adipose tissue dysfunction compared with obese subjects without steatosis.

Conclusion: These results support the concept that obesity predisposes to hepatic steatosis; but in addition, insulin resistance beyond that induced by obesity alone and a relatively high ratio of truncal-to-lower body fat usually combined with obesity to produce an elevated liver fat content.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Absorptiometry, Photon
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Body Fat Distribution
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis
  • Fatty Liver / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Magnetic Resonance, Biomolecular
  • Obesity / complications*