Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disorder in pediatric obesity. Our study aims to identify a predictive anthropometrical measure for NAFLD in obese children.
We retrospectively enrolled children and adolescents with obesity. Physical, biochemical, and ultrasound assessments were available. ROC curve tests were performed to identify the best predictor of NAFLD among waist-to-height ratio (WHR), BMI z-score, and triponderal mass index (TMI, an anthropometric index recently associated with increased adiposity in children). Subsequently, a cut-off value was identified.
In total, 1900 children and adolescents (1011 with NAFLD) were included. WHR (AUC 0.62, 95% CI 0.59-0.64) was the best predictor of NAFLD compared to BMI z-score (AUC 0.58, 95% CI 0.55-0.60) and TMI (AUC 0.58, 95% CI 0.55-0.61). WHR ≥ 0.53 in boys and 0.63 in girls displayed the best sensitivity and specificity for NAFLD presence. In addition, children with high WHR showed a significantly higher risk of NAFLD (boys: OR 2.43, 95% CI 1.61-3.68, p < 0.0001; girls: OR 1.92, 95% CI 1.58-2.34, p < 0.0001) and elevated ALT (OR 5.71, 95% CI 2.09-15.56, p = 0.0007; girls: OR 2.16, 95% CI 1.70-2.74, p < 0.0001) independent of covariates.
WHR might represent a good anthropometric tool to candidate children and adolescents to NAFLD screening. WHR cut-off differs according to sex, being lower in boys than girls.
Waist-to-height ratio is a better predictor of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease risk compared to other anthropometric measures in obese children and adolescents.The predictive cut-off of waist-to-height ratio differs between boys and girls, being lower in boys than girls.The use of waist-to-height ratio measurement and its cut-off in clinical practice might help clinician in identifying obese children and adolescents at risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.