Food Insecurity, Low Household Income, and Low Education Level Increase the Risk of Having Metabolic Dysfunction-Associated Fatty Liver Disease Among Adolescents in the United States

James M. Paik, Sandy Duong, Shira Zelber-Sagi, Jeffrey V. Lazarus, Linda Henry, Zobair M. Younossi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

INTRODUCTION: In the United States, 10.2% households (HH) report child food insecurity. We assessed associations between metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MASLD) and food insecurity among the adolescents in the United States. METHODS: This cross-sectional study was performed using data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017-2018. Food insecurity was assessed by the US Department of Agriculture Child Food Security Survey Module. MASLD was defined by transient elastography. RESULTS: Among 771 adolescents (aged 12-18 years) (mean age 14.7 years; 52.5% male; 50.9% White, 12.7% Black, 24.4% Hispanic, and 12.1% other), 9.8% reported food insecurity; MASLD prevalence of 10.12% (95% confidence interval [CI] 7.13%-13.20%) affecting 4.27 million adolescents; and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease prevalence of 10.77% (95% CI 7.76-13.78) affecting 4.52 million adolescents. There was near-perfect concordance between MASLD and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (Cohen's κ coefficient of 0.971, 95% CI 0.946-0.996). The prevalence of MASLD was greater among food-insecure adolescents vs food-secure ones (17.4% vs 9.4%) and adolescents living with a low HH income vs those with a higher HH income (15.0% vs 7.2%) and living with a head of HH with a lower education level vs one with a higher education level (18.0% vs 8.2%) ( P < 0.05). The fully adjusted model showed that compared with adolescents living in a higher HH income, food-insecure adolescents living in low income HH had a 3-fold greater risk (odds ratio [OR] 3.25, 1.31-8.08) of having MASLD, while food-secure adolescents living in low-income HH had no increased risk (OR 1.58, 0.85-2.93, P = 0.139). The fully adjusted odds of having MASLD was elevated by +163% with the presence of HTN (OR 2.63, 1.02-6.78), +241% with being Hispanic (OR 3.41, 1.36-8.56), and +138% with being male (OR 2.38, 1.20-4.75). In addition, a 1-unit increase in BMI was associated with 25% increase in the odds of having MASLD (OR 1.25, 1.17-1.33) among US adolescents. DISCUSSION: Food insecurity is associated with MASLD among US low-income adolescents especially Hispanic male individuals with obesity and hypertension. Policies addressing inequities are needed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1089-1101
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Gastroenterology
Volume119
Issue number6
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
Copyright © 2024 by The American College of Gastroenterology.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

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