Dietitian-led lifestyle modification programme for obese Chinese adolescents with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: a randomized controlled study
The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children is increasing. This study evaluated the efficacy of a dietitian-led lifestyle modification programme (D-LMP) to reduce NAFLD in obese adolescents. Subjects with intra-hepatic triglyceride content (IHTC) equal to or greater than 5% diagnosed by proton-magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H-MRS) were enroled and randomly assigned to either the D-LMP intervention or conventional paediatrician-led consultation (P-CON) group. Subjects in the P-CON group received usual care consisting of a consultation by a paediatrician with the child and parents every 16 weeks. Intention-to-treat analysis was used for data analysis. Fifty-two subjects were recruited, with 26 in each group. After the initiation phase (at week-16), there was a greater difference in the change in the IHTC and BMI z-score in the D-LMP group (P = 0.029 and <0.001, respectively) and there was a decrease in dietary intake of fat content (P = 0.019). After 52 weeks of the maintenance phase, both groups had reductions of IHTC to 2–3% and there was no intergroup difference in the rate of reduction. During the maintenance phase, parents’ involvement was minimal in the D-LMP group, with only three parents accompanying their children to attend the dietitian sessions. In contrast, over 90% of the parents in the P-CON group regularly accompanied their children to attend the consultations suggesting the possibility that regular parental and paediatrician involvement may contribute to increasing awareness on fatty liver complications. Multivariate analysis showed that only reduction in body fat remained as an independent factor associated with remission of NAFLD at the end of both study phases. A dietitian-led lifestyle modification intervention reduced IHTC, BMI z-score and body fat in obese Chinese adolescents with NAFLD. To sustain the effect of this intervention, regular parental and paediatrician involvement may be important.