Low Sustainability of Weight Loss Among Patients with Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease


Background: Weight loss, though difficult to attain and sustain over time, remains the cornerstone of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) treatment. We aimed to describe weight changes among NAFLD patients.

Methods: This was a retrospective, cohort study of consecutively-identified NAFLD patients with >2 clinic visits from March2007–April2018. Weight changes from baseline were categorized into weight gain, weight loss, and no change. Baseline liver and metabolic biochemistries and non-invasive liver fibrosis tests were correlated with the final weight changes. Succeeding weight changes after the initial follow-up visits were used to determine sustainability of weight loss.

Results: Of the 240 patients included, 123 (51.2%), 93 (38.8%), and 24 (10%) had weight gain, weight loss, and no change, respectively. Only 12.5% had >5% weight loss. Duration of follow-up was significantly longer for patients with weight loss (p<0.001). None of the baseline demographic and laboratory data were associated with weight loss. Patients with weight loss also did not have significant changes to their biochemistries and non-invasive liver fibrosis tests compared to patients with weight gain/no change.  Compared to patients with weight gain after the initial follow-up, where only 11.8% were able to lose weight on the final visit, 73.1% of patients who lost weight after the initial follow-up were able to sustain their weight loss on the final visit.

Conclusions: Weight loss is achieved in only a third of NAFLD patients. Although 73% of patients who lost weight initially were able to sustain it, patients who gained weight after the 1st follow-up were unlikely to lose weight on further follow-up.

Key words: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, weight loss, sustainability

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