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Hepatology. 2010 Jul;52(1):370-81. doi: 10.1002/hep.23711.

Fitness versus fatness: moving beyond weight loss in nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

Author information

1
Discipline of Exercise and Sport Science, University of Sydney, Sydney, Australia.

Abstract

The rapid emergence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as a cause of both liver-related morbidity and mortality and cardiometabolic risk has led to the search for effective lifestyle strategies to reduce liver fat. Lifestyle intervention comprising dietary restriction in conjunction with increased physical activity has shown clear hepatic benefits when weight loss approximating 3%-10% of body weight is achieved. Yet, the poor sustainability of weight loss challenges the current therapeutic focus on body weight and highlights the need for alternative strategies for NAFLD management. Epidemiologic data show an independent relationship between liver fat, physical activity, and fitness, and a growing body of longitudinal research demonstrates that increased physical activity participation per se significantly reduces hepatic steatosis and serum aminotransferases in individuals with NAFLD, independent of weight loss. Mechanistic insights to explain this interaction are outlined, and recommendations for the implementation of lifestyle intervention involving physical activity are discussed. In light of the often poor sustainability of weight loss strategies, and the viability of physical activity therapy, clinicians should assess physical fitness and physical activity habits, educate patients on the benefits of fitness outside of weight loss, and focus on behavior change which promotes physical activity adoption.

PMID:
20578153
DOI:
10.1002/hep.23711
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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