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Abdominal Height - The new indicator for fatty liver?

Abdominal Height - The new indicator for fatty liver?

Obesity is a major health issue around the world, and it is one of the risk factors that is mostly associated with liver problems. People with obesity (BMI over 25) are often encouraged to pay attention to their ALT level, since ALT is often considered as the first indicator when it comes to liver diseases. But surprisingly, research shows that people with a normal BMI level but have regional fat accumulation, most commonly in the abdominal area, are more likely to have liver disease comparing to people with high BMI level.


BMI and ALT level

The body mass index (BMI) is used worldwide to determine if an individual is underweight, normal weight, overweight, or obese based on the value derived from his/her weight and height. All along the years, research have confirmed that high BMI value is a strong risk factor of elevated ALT (or fatty liver disease). Since obese people tend to engage in less exercise, and less physical activity is associated with increases in mean ALT levels.

In a research published in The National Center for Biotechnology Information that compares the effect of alcohol consumption, cigarette smoking, exercise level, and obesity on ALT level, the effect of obesity on ALT was particularly significant, suggesting a strong correlation between the two.

So in short, people with high BMI values have a higher chance of having elevated ALT level. But how does this compare to people who have a normal BMI, but with some extra fat in their abdomen area? how does their weight correlate with the ALT level?


Abdominal obesity, ALT level, and liver disease progression

In a research article published in Hepatology, abdominal height (the way how abdominal fat is measured) appears to be a better predictor of elevated ALT level than BMI. The research covers over 2,700 people aged 35-80 who have no known hepatic diseases. It was found out that abdominal height was consistently a better correlate of ALT level than BMI. And recent findings have shown that abdominal obesity alone can be an independent predictor of fatty liver disease.

That is to say, people who have a normal BMI level but have excess fat accumulation around the abdomen area are more likely to have elevated ALT level.

Also known as central obesity, abdominal obesity poses a number of health risks and liver diseases are a major one. The more abdominal fat there is, the higher the possibility of developing fatty liver, a disease characterised by having over 5% of fat in the liver.

An excess liver fat content, when not monitored or treated in time, could lead to liver inflammation. No matter if the obesity is abdominal or general, it can accelerate the speed of hepatic injury and inflammation. People without obesity but with excess central fat should pay extra care to their liver condition, in which case, ALT level is a good indication, or try to engage in weight loss to reduce the abdomen fat content in prevention of potential liver diseases.

  • * All research and clinical data should be used as reference purposes only, results may vary.
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