Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has been associated with meat consumption in cross-sectional studies. However, only a few prospective studies have been conducted, and they did not test for liver fibrosis. We aimed to assess the association between meat consumption changes and the incidence and remission of NAFLD and significant liver fibrosis. We used a prospective cohort study design, including 316 subjects aged 40–70 years, participating in baseline and follow-up evaluations at Tel-Aviv Medical Center. NAFLD was determined by liver ultrasound or controlled attenuation parameter (CAP), and liver fibrosis was determined by FibroScan. Meat consumption (g/day) was assessed by a food frequency questionnaire (FFQ). In multivariable-adjusted analyses, high consumption of red and/or processed meat (≥gender-specific median) was associated with a higher risk of NAFLD with elevated alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (OR = 3.75, 1.21–11.62, p = 0.022). Consistently high (in both baseline and follow-up evaluations) total meat consumption was associated with 2.55-fold (95% CI 1.27–5.12, p = 0.009) greater odds for new onset and/or persistence of NAFLD compared to consistently low meat consumption. A similar association was shown for consistently high consumption of red and/or processed meat (OR = 2.12, 95% CI 1.11–4.05, p = 0.022). Consistently high red and/or processed meat consumption was associated with 4.77-fold (95% CI 1.36–16.69, p = 0.014) greater odds for significant fibrosis compared to consistently low consumption. Minimizing the consumption of red and/or processed meat may help prevent NAFLD and significant fibrosis.
Bibliographical noteFunding Information:
J.V.L. acknowledges support to ISGlobal from the Spanish Ministry of Science, Innovation, and Universities through the “Centro de Excelencia Severo Ochoa 2019–2023” Program (CEX2018-000806-S), and from the Government of Catalonia, Spain, through the CERCA Program.
Research Grants and Fellowships Fund on Food and Nutrition and their Implications on Public Health, the Israeli Ministry of Health.
© 2022 by the authors.
- fatty liver
- liver fibrosis
- processed meat
- red meat
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Food Science
- Nutrition and Dietetics