Pediatric Fatty Liver and Obesity: Not Always Justa Matter of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Children (Basel). 2018 Dec 13;5(12):169. doi: 10.3390/children5120169.


Obesity-related non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) represents the most common cause of pediatric liver disease due to overweight/obesity large-scale epidemics. In clinical practice, diagnosis is usually based on clinical features, blood tests, and liver imaging. Here, we underline the need to make a correct differential diagnosis for a number of genetic, metabolic, gastrointestinal, nutritional, endocrine, muscular, and systemic disorders, and for iatrogenic/viral/autoimmune hepatitis as well. This is all the more important for patients who are not in the NAFLD classical age range and for those for whom a satisfactory response of liver test abnormalities to weight loss after dietary counseling and physical activity measures cannot be obtained or verified due to poor compliance. A correct diagnosis may be life-saving, as some of these conditions which appear similar to NAFLD have a specific therapy. In this study, the characteristics of the main conditions which require consideration are summarized, and a practical diagnostic algorithm is discussed.

Keywords: NAFLD; differential diagnosis; fatty liver; genetic and metabolic disorders; obesity; systemic disorders.

Publication types

  • Review