Objectives: This study aimed to determine the prevalence of the metabolic syndrome, abnormalities of liver enzymes and sonographic fatty liver, as well as the inter-related associations in normal weight, overweight and obese children and adolescents.
Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted among a sample of 1107 students (56.1% girls), aged 6-18 years in Isfahan, Iran. In addition to physical examination, fasting blood glucose, serum lipid profile and liver enzymes were determined. Liver sonography was performed among 931 participants. These variables were compared among participants with different body mass index (BMI) categories.
Results: From lower to higher BMI category, alanine aminotransferase (ALT), total cholesterol, LDL-cholesterol, triglycerides and systolic blood pressure increased, and HDL-cholesterol decreased significantly. Elevated ALT, aspartate aminotransferase (AST) and alkaline phosphatase (ALP) were documented in respectively 4.1%, 6.6% and 9.8% of normal weight group. The corresponding figure was 9.5%, 9.8% and 9.1% in overweight group, and 16.9%, 14.9% and 10.8% in obese group, respectively. In all BMI categories, ALT increased significantly by increasing the number of the components of the metabolic syndrome. Odds ratio for elevated liver enzymes and sonographic fatty liver increased significantly with higher number of the components of the metabolic syndrome and higher BMI categories before and after adjustment for age.
Conclusions: Because of the interrelationship of biochemical and sonographic indexes of fatty liver with the components of the metabolic syndrome, and with increase in their number, it is suggested to determine the clinical impact of such association in future longitudinal studies.