Background During the past years paediatric obesity has been increasing in Romania and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is diagnosed more frequently.
Objective To evaluate the prevalence of NAFLD in obese children followed in a university paediatric hospital. To find the correlation between the degree of obesity and liver tests, ultrasound liver image or cholesterol and triglyceride levels.
Methods We have studied retrospectively 51 obese children with ages between 2.49 and 17.42 years (mean 11.33 ± 3.43). NAFLD was diagnosed by an increase of serum transaminases and/or increase of liver echogenicity at ultrasound examination. Patients with other established liver diseases were excluded. We analysed the level of serum transaminases, cholesterol and triglycerides and ultrasound changes in correlation with the body mass index (BMI) z-score.
Results BMI was between 19.22 kg/m2 and 39.45 kg/m2, with a mean z-score of 2.11 ± 0.59. NAFLD was diagnosed in 18 patients (35.30%), by an increase of transaminases (13.73%) and/or ultrasound increase of echogenicity (29.42%). NAFLD was more frequent in boys (48.15%) compared with girls (23.81%, p = 0.0454). There was no significant difference of BMI z-score between patients with or without NAFLD (p = 0.7838). Using regression models, there were no correlations between BMI z-scores and transaminases (r = −0.0585, p = 0.81), triglycerides (r = −0.0706, p = 0.78) or cholesterol (r = 0.0331, p = 0.47) in patients with NAFLD.
Conclusions NAFLD is frequent in obese children and will represent in the near future the most frequent liver disease in this population. Increase of serum transaminases and ultrasound examination could represent screening tools for diagnosing NAFLD. BMI z-score is not correlated with the severity of liver disease.