Background & Aims: The long-term outcome of paediatric non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has not been well established. Between 2008 and 2012, an unselected cohort of 133 children with severe obesity was screened for NAFLD. The aim of this study was to determine the 10-year natural history of NAFLD in this cohort. Methods: All 133 participants of the original study were approached. Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) and the Enhanced Liver Fibrosis® (ELF) test were used to assess longitudinal changes in steatosis and fibrosis, respectively. Risk factors for disease progression were explored. Results: Fifty-one of the 133 participants (38%) from the original cohort were included. The mean follow-up time was 10.3 years (range 7–13 years), 65% were female and 92% had persistent obesity. The proportion of participants with steatosis remained unchanged (47%). Nine individuals developed steatosis and in nine individuals steatosis resolved. Predefined relevant individual changes in 1H-MRS were seen in 38% of the participants. The mean ELF test did not change significantly (8.70 ± 0.58 vs. 8.51 ± 0.71, p = 0.22). However, 16% had a relevant increase in ELF test and 6% of those with NAFLD developed advanced fibrosis at follow-up. Changes in steatosis correlated with changes in established metabolic risk factors, alanine aminotransferase, and bariatric surgery. A change in the ELF test was associated with a change in triglycerides. Conclusions: This 10-year follow-up study shows that one-third of the young adults who had childhood obesity develop steatosis and in one-third steatosis resolves. Six percent of those with NAFLD had developed advanced fibrosis at follow-up. These data underscore the importance of screening for NAFLD and monitoring for progression to advanced NAFLD in young people with obesity. Impact and implications: Childhood obesity accompanied by fat accumulation in the liver persists into young adulthood in the vast majority, and 6% develop serious liver injury. Worsening of metabolic disturbances increases the risk of liver injury.
|Publication status||Published - 1 May 2023|