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The association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and hepatic steatosis: cross-sectional analysis of two independent studies, the UK Fenland Study and the Swiss CoLaus Study

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Khalatbari-Soltani, Saman 
Imamura, Fumiaki 
Brage, Soren 
De Lucia Rolfe, Emanuella 
Griffin, Simon J 



            Background and aims
            The risk of hepatic steatosis may be reduced through changes to dietary intakes, but evidence is sparse, especially for dietary patterns including the Mediterranean diet. We investigated the association between adherence to the Mediterranean diet and prevalence of hepatic steatosis.
            Cross-sectional analysis of data from two population-based adult cohorts: the Fenland Study (England, n = 9645, 2005–2015) and CoLaus Study (Switzerland, n = 3957, 2009–2013). Habitual diet was assessed using cohort-specific food frequency questionnaires. Mediterranean diet scores (MDSs) were calculated in three ways based on adherence to the Mediterranean dietary pyramid, dietary cut-points derived from a published review, and cohort-specific tertiles of dietary consumption. Hepatic steatosis was assessed by abdominal ultrasound and fatty liver index (FLI) in Fenland and by FLI and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) score in CoLaus. FLI includes body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, gamma-glutamyl transferase, and triglyceride; NAFLD includes diabetes, fasting insulin level, fasting aspartate-aminotransferase (AST), and AST/alanine transaminase ratio. Associations were assessed using Poisson regression.
            In Fenland, the prevalence of hepatic steatosis was 23.9% and 27.1% based on ultrasound and FLI, respectively, and in CoLaus, 25.3% and 25.7% based on FLI and NAFLD score, respectively. In Fenland, higher adherence to pyramid-based MDS was associated with lower prevalence of hepatic steatosis assessed by ultrasound (prevalence ratio (95% confidence interval), 0.86 (0.81, 0.90) per one standard deviation of MDS). This association was attenuated [0.95 (0.90, 1.00)] after adjustment for body mass index (BMI). Associations of similar magnitude were found for hepatic steatosis assessed by FLI in Fenland [0.82 (0.78, 0.86)] and in CoLaus [0.85 (0.80, 0.91)], and these were also attenuated after adjustment for BMI. Findings were similar when the other two MDS definitions were used.
            Greater adherence to the Mediterranean diet was associated with lower prevalence of hepatic steatosis, largely explained by adiposity. These findings suggest that an intervention promoting a Mediterranean diet may reduce the risk of hepatic steatosis.



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