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Relation of Anthropometric Obesity and Computed Tomography Measured Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (from the Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis)

      We hypothesized that anthropometric measures of abdominal obesity would have a stronger positive association with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) measured by noncontrast computed tomography versus general measures of obesity. The Multiethnic Study of Atherosclerosis comprised participants aged 45 to 84 years free of known cardiovascular disease. We studied 4,088 participants with adequate liver and spleen computed tomography imaging and no previous use of oral steroids, class 3 antiarrhythmics, moderately heavy alcohol use, or cirrhosis. Prevalent NAFLD was defined as a liver:spleen Hounsfield attenuation ratio of <1. Multivariable log-linear regression modeled the association of 4 obesity measures—weight, body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and waist-to-hip ratio—with prevalent NAFLD. Receiver-operator curve analysis compared NAFLD discrimination. Median age was 63 years, and 55% were women. For each obesity measure, adjusted prevalence ratios for NAFLD were fourfold to fivefold greater in the highest versus the lowest quartile (p <0.001). Waist circumference and BMI had the highest prevalence ratios, and waist circumference had the best discrimination, for NAFLD in the total population, although an abnormal BMI categorized subjects with NAFLD as well if not better than waist circumference. In ethnic-specific analysis, whites and Chinese had the strongest association of obesity and NAFLD compared with other ethnicities. In conclusion, although waist circumference provided the best discrimination for NAFLD, BMI may perform similarly well in clinical settings to screen for NAFLD.
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