Food groups and the likelihood of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Br J Nutr. 2020 Jul 14;124(1):1-13. doi: 10.1017/S0007114520000914. Epub 2020 Mar 6.


Dietary habits have been implicated in the development and severity of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Several epidemiological studies attempted to assess the relationship between food groups and the likelihood of NAFLD, but these results were conflicting. The present meta-analysis was conducted to assess the association between food groups and the likelihood of NAFLD. Published literature was retrieved and screened from MEDLINE, Embase and Web of Science. Out of 7892 retrieved articles, twenty-four observational studies (fifteen cross-sectional studies and nine case–control studies) met our eligibility criteria and were finally included in this systematic review and meta-analysis. Consumption of both red meat and soft drinks contributed to a positive association with NAFLD. Inversely, nut consumption was negatively associated with NAFLD. There were no significant influences on the likelihood of NAFLD about consuming whole grains, refined grains, fish, fruits, vegetables, eggs, dairy products and legumes. This meta-analysis suggests that individuals who consumed more red meat and soft drinks may have a significantly increased likelihood of NAFLD, whereas higher nut intake may be negatively associated with NAFLD. Further prospective studies are required to assess the association between food patterns and NAFLD.

Keywords: Diet; Food groups; Liver steatosis; Meta-analyses; Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Systematic reviews.

Publication types

  • Review