Relationship of hepatic steatosis to adipose tissue distribution in pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease

Mark H. Fishbein*, Chris Mogren, Theodore Gleason, W. Ross Stevens

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

83 Scopus citations


Objective: Central adiposity, a component of insulin resistance syndrome, is a risk factor for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in adults. To determine whether a similar relationship occurs in children, hepatic fat content and adipose tissue distribution were assessed in obese children at risk for NAFLD. Methods: We reviewed the charts of obese children undergoing evaluation for NAFLD because of hepatomegaly or elevated serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) without obvious etiology. Hepatic fat fraction and adipose tissue distribution were obtained by rapid magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) techniques. Hepatic fat content was determined by a modification of the Dixon method that involves fast gradient echo. Body fat distribution was assessed by using heavily T1-weighted fast gradient echo technique on a single slice at the level of the umbilicus, and regions of interest were demarcated based upon pixel intensity threshold value including visceral adipose tissue (VAT) and subcutaneous adipose tissue content (SAT). Results: Ten children underwent hepatic MRI only. Twenty-nine children underwent hepatic and adipose tissue distribution MRI. There was a correlation between hepatic fat fraction and VAT (r = 0.37, P < 0.05) but not body mass index or SAT. Elevated serum ALT was associated with a higher hepatic fat fraction (P < 0.001) and VAT (P = 0.06). Conclusion: Visceral adiposity is a risk factor for pediatric NAFLD.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)83-88
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of pediatric gastroenterology and nutrition
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Insulin resistance
  • Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Steatosis
  • Subcutaneous adipose tissue
  • Visceral adipose tissue

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Gastroenterology


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