Fatty liver index predicts incident diabetes in a Japanese general population with and without impaired fasting glucose

Hepatol Res. 2018 Aug;48(9):708-716. doi: 10.1111/hepr.13065. Epub 2018 Mar 12.


Aim: Fatty liver is associated with the development of diabetes. However, to our knowledge, no study has examined the relationship between the fatty liver index (FLI), calculated scores of hepatic steatosis, and the development of diabetes among individuals without impaired fasting glucose (IFG). We aimed to examine whether FLI predicts the development of diabetes in individuals with and without IFG in a Japanese general population.

Methods: We selected 1498 men and 2941 women who participated in Specific Health Checkups in Japan. We divided all participants into six groups according to tertiles of FLI (low, moderate, and high) and the presence or absence of IFG, by sex. We calculated hazard ratios for incident diabetes for each group using a Cox proportional hazard model, adjusting for potential confounders.

Results: During a mean follow-up period of 3.0 years, 176 cases of diabetes in men and 320 cases in women were identified. Compared with the low FLI group without IFG, the high FLI group without IFG was significantly associated with incident diabetes in both men (hazard ratio, 1.90; 95% confidence interval, 1.08-3.36) and women (hazard ratio, 1.72; 95% confidence interval, 1.18-2.51). All IFG groups were significantly associated with incident diabetes regardless of FLI levels.

Conclusions: Our results showed that FLI is associated with the development of diabetes regardless of sex and the presence or absence of IFG, and that it may be a useful predictor of future risk of incident diabetes even in individuals without IFG.

Keywords: diabetes; epidemiology; fatty liver index; health checkup; impaired fasting glucose.