Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (Nafld) in obese children- effect of refined carbohydrates in diet

BMC Pediatr. 2016 Nov 15;16(1):187. doi: 10.1186/s12887-016-0726-3.


Background: The incidence of childhood obesity has increased progressively and, associated with this, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has often been diagnosed in this age group. To determine the risk factors associated with NAFLD in obese children, with special emphasis on diet.

Methods: A prospective cross-sectional study was conducted with obese children referred to the endocrinology outpatient clinic. Questions about dietary habits and physical activity were applied. In addition, two 24 h food recalls were collected. Anthropometric measurements, biochemical tests and abdominal ultrasound were obtained. The study was approved by the institutional review board of Irmandade Santa Casa de Misericórdia de Porto Alegre Hospital (ISCMPA). A 5% statistical significance level was considered statistically significant.

Results: Of 55 patients initially allocated, 39 were evaluated and 8 (20.5%) had a diagnosis of NAFLD, which was more prevalent among boys (87.5%). Logistic regression analysis showed that the predictive factors independently associated with the presence of NAFLD were male gender (OR: 1.62; 95% CI: 1.08- 2.44; p = 0.038); high amount of refined carbohydrates in the diet (OR: 2.17; 95% CI: 1.05 - 6.82; p = 0.038) and absence of routine physical activity (OR: 3.35; 95% CI:1.97 - 0.006; p = 0.006).

Conclusions: The prevalence of NAFLD in obese children in our series was high. Furthermore, the high amount of refined carbohydrates in the diet, male gender and sedentary lifestyle were significant risk factors for its occurrence.

Keywords: NAFLD, Children; Obesity, Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Diet / adverse effects*
  • Dietary Carbohydrates / adverse effects*
  • Exercise
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Logistic Models
  • Male
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / etiology*
  • Pediatric Obesity / complications*
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Risk Factors
  • Sex Factors


  • Dietary Carbohydrates