Obesity is typically associated with metabolic dysfunction, but its impact on hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) remains unclear in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB).
To study the effect of obesity on HCC development in patients with CHB receiving antiviral therapy.
We included patients from a Chinese multicentre, prospective, observational, treated CHB cohort in this study. General obesity was evaluated by body-mass index (BMI). Central obesity was evaluated by waist circumference, waist-to-hip ratio and waist-to-height ratio.
A total of 5754 nucleos(t)ide analogue treated patients were enrolled in the analysis. The 5-year cumulative incidence of HCC was 2.9%. Waist-to-height ratio performed better in predicting HCC development than BMI, waist circumference or waist-to-hip ratio. Patients with central obesity (defined as waist-to-height ratio >0.5) had significantly higher 5-year incidence of HCC than those without central obesity in the overall population (3.9% vs 2.1%, hazard ratio [HR]: 2.06, P = 0.0001) and 745 propensity score matched pairs (4.7% vs 2.3%, HR: 2.04, P = 0.026), respectively. Besides cirrhosis status and aMAP HCC risk score, central obesity was also independently associated with HCC risk (HR: 1.63, P = 0.013). Waist-to-height ratio gain within 1 year was associated with a significantly higher HCC risk with an adjusted HR value of 1.88 (95% confidence interval: 1.12-3.13, P = 0.017).
Central obesity, evaluated by the waist-to-height ratio, was associated with a twofold increase in HCC risk among CHB patients receiving antiviral treatment, highlighting the important role of abnormal metabolic function in the progression of liver disease.

© 2021 John Wiley & Sons Ltd.