Background: Higher levels of intra-abdominal adipose tissue (IAAT) comprising visceral adipose tissue (VAT), intermuscular adipose tissue (IMAT), and liver fat are posited drivers of obesity-related chronic disease risk. Fast food is hypothesized to contribute to IAAT patterns.
Objectives: We quantified levels of abdominal subcutaneous adipose tissue (SAT), IAAT, and odds of metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) in middle age according to average fast-food intake over the preceding 25 y.
Methods: We analyzed data from the Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study. Participants underwent 6 clinical exams and measurements over 25 y with computed tomography-measured VAT, SAT, and IMAT (n = 3156), plus MAFLD defined by liver attenuation (≤40 Hounsfield units) and 1 metabolic abnormality at year 25 (2010, n = 3001, n cases = 302). We estimated means of VAT, SAT, IMAT, and liver attenuation at the year 25 exam according to categories of average fast-food intake over the previous 25 y adjusted for sociodemographic and lifestyle factors and logistic regression to estimate the odds ratio of MAFLD at year 25.
Results: With higher average fast-food intake over 25 y (categorized as follows: never-1×/mo, >1×-3×/mo, 1-<2×/wk, 2-<3×/wk, ≥3×/wk), there were monotonic higher levels of VAT (98.5, 127.6, 134.5, 142.0, 145.5 cm3), P-trend < 0.0001, which were consistent across anthropometrically classified obesity categories. There was a similar pattern with liver fat. There were higher levels of IMAT and SAT with higher fast-food intake (P-trend = 0.003, 0.0002, respectively), with amounts leveling off at ≥2×/wk. In addition, compared with participants who ate fast food never-1×/mo, there were monotonic higher odds of having MAFLD at year 25 with higher average fast-food intake, with participants who ate fast food ≥3×/wk having an OR of MAFLD = 5.18 (95% CI: 2.87, 9.37).
Conclusions: There were monotonic higher levels of VAT, liver fat, and odds of having MAFLD in middle age according to higher average fast-food intake over the preceding 25 y.
Keywords: MAFLD; dietary intake; fast-food; obesity; visceral adipose tissue.
© The Author(s) 2022. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of the American Society for Nutrition.