Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is not associated with a lower health perception

Liat Mlynarsky, Dalit Schlesinger, Roni Lotan, Muriel Webb, Zamir Halpern, Erwin Santo, Oren Shibolet, Shira Zelber-Sagi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


AIM: To examine the association between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and general health perception. METHODS: This cross sectional and prospective follow-up study was performed on a cohort of a subsample of the first Israeli national health and nutrition examination survey, with no secondary liver disease or history of alcohol abuse. On the first survey, in 2003-2004, 349 participants were included. In 2009-2010 participants from the baseline survey were invited to participate in a follow-up survey. On both baseline and follow-up surveys the data collected included: self-reported general health perception, physical activity habits, frequency of physician's visits, fatigue impact scale and abdominal ultrasound. Fatty liver was diagnosed by abdominal ultrasonography using standardized criteria and the ratio between the median brightness level of the liver and the right kidney was calculated to determine the Hepato-Renal Index. RESULTS: Out of 349 eligible participants in the first survey, 213 volunteers participated in the follow-up cohort and were included in the current analysis, NAFLD was diagnosed in 70/213 (32.9%). The prevalence of "very good" self-reported health perception was lower among participants diagnosed with NAFLD compared to those without NAFLD. However, adjustment for BMI attenuated the association (OR = 0.73, 95%CI: 0.36-1.50, P = 0.392). Similar results were observed for the hepato-renal index; it was inversely associated with "very good" health perception but adjustment for BMI attenuated the association. In a full model of multivariate analysis, that included all potential predictors for health perception, NAFLD was not associated with the self-reported general health perception (OR = 0.86, 95%CI: 0.40-1.86, P = 0.704). The odds for "very good" self-reported general health perception (compared to "else") increased among men (OR = 2.42, 95%CI: 1.26-4.66, P = 0.008) and those with higher performance of leisure time physical activity (OR = 1.01, 95%CI: 1.00-1.01, P < 0.001, per every minute/week) and decreased with increasing level of BMI (OR = 0.91, 95%CI: 0.84-0.99, P = 0.028, per every kg/m2) and older age (OR = 0.96, 95%CI: 0.93-0.99, P = 0.033, per one year). Current smoking was not associated with health perception (OR = 1.31, 95%CI: 0.54-3.16, P = 0.552). Newly diagnosed (naive) and previously diagnosed (at the first survey, not naive) NAFLD patients did not differ in their self-health perception. The presence of NAFLD at the first survey as compared to normal liver did not predict health perception deterioration at the 7 years follow-up. In terms of health-services utilization, subjects diagnosed with NAFLD had a similar number of physician's visits (general physicians and specialty consultants) as in the normal liver group. Parameters in the fatigue impact scale were equivalent between the NAFLD and the normal liver groups. CONCLUSION: Fatty liver without clinically significant liver disease does not have independent impact on selfhealth perception.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4362-4372
Number of pages11
JournalWorld Journal of Gastroenterology
Issue number17
StatePublished - 7 May 2016

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016 Baishideng Publishing Group Inc. All rights reserved.


  • Fatigue
  • Health perception
  • Health-care services utilization
  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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