From an article at International Business Times:
Reducing hepatic [liver] fat or fat around the liver by 30%, along with moderate weight loss is an important part in reducing obesity-related health risks from a long-term perspective, the researchers of the study said. In addition to moderate weight loss, visceral fat or fat stored within the abdominal cavity was reduced by 25% and fat around the heart decreased by 11%. Fat in and around the muscle and pancreas was also reduced by 1 to 2%.
“Reduction in liver fat is a better predictor of long-term health than reduction of visceral fat, which was previously believed to be the main predictor,” Professor Shai explained in a press release. “The findings are a significant contributor to the emerging understanding that for many obese individuals, excess liver fat is not merely a sign of health risks associated with obesity, including cardiovascular disease and diabetes, but is likely also a cause.”
Source: Scientists Reveal Most Effective Diet For Weight Loss, And It’s Not Keto
Click for details of the study.
Steve Parker, M.D.
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From the study abstract:
In an 18-month weight-loss trial, 278 participants with abdominal obesity/dyslipidemia were randomized to low-fat (LF) or Mediterranean/low-carbohydrate (MED/LC+28g walnuts/day) diets with/without moderate physical activity (PA). HFC and abdominal fat-depots were measured using magnetic-resonance-imaging at baseline, after 6 (sub-study, n=158) and 18-months.
Of 278 participants [age=48yr;88% men; body-mass-index=30.8kg/m2; mean HFC =10.2%,(range:0.01%-50.4%)], retention rate was 86.3%. %HFC substantially decreased after 6 [-6.6% absolute-units (-41% relatively)] and 18-months [-4.0% absolute-units (-29% relatively);p<0.001 vs. baseline]. Reduction of HFC associated with decreases in VAT beyond weight loss. After controlling for VAT loss, decreased %HFC remained independently associated with reductions in serum gamma-glutamyl-transferase and alanine-aminotransferase, circulating chemerin, and HbA1c (p<0.05). While reduction of HFC was similar between PA groups, compared to LF diet, MED/LC induced a greater %HFC decrease (p=0.036) and greater improvements in cardiometabolic risk parameters (p<0.05), even after controlling for VAT changes. Yet, the greater decreases induced by MED/LC compared to LF diets in triglycerides, TG/HDL ratio and cardiovascular risk score were all markedly attenuated when controlling for HFC changes.
Source: The Beneficial effects of Mediterranean diet over low-fat diet may be mediated by decreasing hepatic fat content – Journal of Hepatology
Here’s a low-carb Mediterranean diet:
Two diet books in one
MedPage Today on May 25, 2012 has an article documenting the rise of fatty liver disease in U.S. teenagers. Prevalence is now up to one in 10 teens.
An expert quoted in the article says it’s tied in with the rise of childhood obesity.
Youth obesity in the U.S. tripled from the early 1980s to 2000, ending with a 17% obesity rate. Overweight and obesity together describe 32% of U.S. children. Some experts believe this generation of kids will be the first in U.S. history to suffer a decline in life expectancy, related to obesity.
I wrote about a small research study that found a very-low-carb diet more effective against fatty liver, compared to a low-calorie diet. But that involved adults.
University of Colorado researchers indicate that for weight loss, a low-carb, high-protein diet is safe and effective in adolescents.
Diet researchers found in 2008 that a modified low-carbohydrate Mediterranean diet had significant potential to reduce fatty liver. My Low-Carb Mediterranean Diet (minus the wine option) would probably help overweight teens with fatty liver disease, but it’s never been tested in such a clinical trial.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Loss of excess weight is a mainstay of therapy for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. A very-low-carb diet works better than a reduced-calorie diet, according to a study in the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs in 20 to 40% of the general population, with most cases occuring between the ages of 40 and 60. It’s an accumulation of triglycerides in the liver. For every week I work in the hospital, I see five or 10 scans (either CT scans or sonograms) that incidentally show fat build-up in the liver.
Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a subset of NAFLD, perhaps 30% of those with NAFLD. Steatohepatitis involves an inflammatory component, progressing to cirrhosis in 3 to 26% of cases.
Researchers at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center assigned 18 obese subjects (average BMI 35) to either a very-low-carb diet (under 20 grams a day) or a low-calorie diet (1200 to 1500 calories a day) for two weeks. Liver fat was measured by magnetic resonance technology. The low-carb groups’ liver fat decreased by 55% compared to 28% in the other group. Weight loss was about the same for both groups (4.6 vs 4 kg).
This small study needs to be replicated, ideally with a larger group of subjects studied over a longer period. Nevertheless, it appears that a very-low-carb diet may be one of the best dietary approaches to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. And I bet it’s more sustainable than severe calorie restriction. The Ketogenic Mediterranean Diet, by the way, provides 20-30 grams of carb daily.
Steve Parker, M.D.
Reference: Browning, Jeffrey, et al. Short-term weight loss and hepatic triglyceride reduction: evidence of a metabolic advantage with dietary carbohydrate restriction. Am J Clin Nutr, May 2011 vol. 93 no. 5 1048-1052. doi: 10.3945/ajcn.110.007674