The potential role of fatty liver in paediatric metabolic syndrome: a distinct phenotype with high metabolic risk?

Pediatr Obes. 2012 Dec;7(6):e75-80. doi: 10.1111/j.2047-6310.2012.00089.x. Epub 2012 Sep 21.


Background: The prevalence of obesity and its metabolic consequences has dramatically increased in the last two decades urging physicians to find a reliable definition for early detection, treatment and possibly prevention of metabolic syndrome (MS). MS could be diagnosed in adult patients in the presence of a large waist circumference and ≥2 of the following features: high serum triglycerides, low serum high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high blood pressure and high fasting glucose. The definition of MS in children is more problematic, and the potential role of its single components on metabolic risk remains largely undefined. Recent evidence strongly suggests not only a relationship between non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and MS in obese children, adolescents and adults, but also the key role exerted by liver fat deposition in the pathogenesis of MS.

Conclusion: We propose that NAFLD should be routinely checked in obese subjects because early lifestyle changes may be effective in reducing the overall risk of MS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adipose Tissue / physiopathology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Fatty Liver / complications*
  • Fatty Liver / physiopathology
  • Humans
  • Insulin Resistance
  • Liver / physiopathology
  • Metabolic Syndrome / diagnosis
  • Metabolic Syndrome / etiology*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / physiopathology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity / complications*