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21-03-2011 | Diabetes | Article

Fatty liver increases diabetes risk in people with impaired fasting glucose


Free abstract

MedWire News: People with impaired fasting glucose (IFG) who also have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are at higher risk for diabetes than those without fatty liver, suggest study results.

Having NAFLD is thought to increase a person's risk for diabetes, but as it often occurs concurrently with IFG it is difficult to quantify the degree of risk attributable to NAFLD alone.

To investigate this further, Won Young Lee (Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea) and colleagues recruited 7849 nondiabetic individuals, aged 44.5 years on average, to take part in their study.

Of these, 4353 had neither condition (controls), 1447 had NAFLD but no IFG (NAFLD group), 1204 had IFG but no NAFLD (IFG group), and 845 had both NAFLD and IFG (NAFLD+IFG group) at enrollment. IFG was defined as having a fasting plasma glucose level between 100 and 125 mg/dl, and NAFLD was diagnosed according to standard criteria.

The researchers followed the participants up for a mean period of 4 years for incident diabetes. During this time 1.5% of the control group versus 3.2%, 11.8%, and 21.3% of the NAFLD, IFG, and NAFLD+IFG groups, respectively, developed diabetes.

When those with no NAFLD were compared with participants with the condition, incident diabetes occurred in 3.7% and 9.9% of the respective groups. This translated to NAFLD being associated with a significant 33% increase in the relative risk for diabetes compared with no NAFLD.

However, on multivariate analysis, adjusting for various factors including age, gender, and body mass index, the increase in risk for diabetes was only significant in the IFG and NAFLD+IFG groups, with corresponding 6.79- and 8.95-fold relative risk increases compared with controls.

"This study suggests that NAFLD is an independent risk factor for diabetes," say Lee and team.

"This independent association is shown particularly in individuals with IFG, indicating that NAFLD has an independent and additive effect on the development of diabetes under conditions of impaired insulin secretion."

The results of this study are published in the journal Diabetes Care.

MedWire ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2011

By Helen Albert