Effect of a lifestyle intervention in patients with abnormal liver enzymes and metabolic risk factors

J Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2009 Mar;24(3):399-407. doi: 10.1111/j.1440-1746.2008.05694.x. Epub 2008 Dec 2.


Background and aim: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease associated with insulin resistance is the most common cause of abnormal liver tests in clinical practice. To date, practical and effective strategies to improve the metabolic profile of this large group of patients have not been well characterised. We sought to assess the effect at 3 months of a behavior change-based lifestyle intervention on the metabolic profile of patients characterised by elevated liver enzymes.

Methods: A total of 152 patients with elevated liver enzymes, central obesity and a range of metabolic risk factors were randomised to either a moderate- (6 sessions/10 weeks) or low-intensity (3 sessions/4 weeks) lifestyle counselling intervention or control group.

Results: There was improvement in all metabolic risk factors in the moderate-intensity group, versus a smaller number of changes in the low-intensity intervention group and no change in any metabolic risk factors in control subjects. Reduction in liver enzymes was greatest in the moderate-intensity intervention group and least in the control group. The likelihood of elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels in both the moderate and low-intensity groups was reduced by over 70% compared to controls. The proportion of subjects achieving weight loss (>or= 2%) was significantly higher in the moderate-intensity intervention group (66%) versus the low-intensity intervention group (39%; P < 0.05) and controls (29%; P < 0.001).

Conclusions: Moderate and even low-intensity lifestyle counselling interventions targeting improvement in physical activity and nutritional behaviors and modest weight loss are a practical and effective method for improving the health of patients with elevated liver enzymes and a range of metabolic risk factors.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases / blood
  • Behavior Therapy*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / etiology*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / prevention & control
  • Clinical Enzyme Tests*
  • Counseling*
  • Diet
  • Exercise
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis
  • Fatty Liver / etiology
  • Fatty Liver / therapy*
  • Female
  • Health Behavior
  • Health Knowledge, Attitudes, Practice
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance*
  • Male
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications
  • Metabolic Syndrome / therapy*
  • Middle Aged
  • Obesity / complications
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Care Team
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Risk Assessment
  • Risk Factors
  • Risk Reduction Behavior*
  • Time Factors
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Loss
  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase / blood


  • gamma-Glutamyltransferase
  • Aspartate Aminotransferases
  • Alanine Transaminase