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Reuters Health Information (2004-02-13): Modest weight loss and exercise may slow liver disease in overweight patients


Modest weight loss and exercise may slow liver disease in overweight patients

Last Updated: 2004-02-13 13:13:17 -0400 (Reuters Health)

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - In overweight patients with chronic liver disease, modest weight loss and physical activity is associated with sustained improvements in liver enzymes, fasting insulin levels, and quality of life, new research shows.

The findings, which are reported in the February issue of Gut, are based on a study of 31 overweight patients with liver disease who completed a 15-month weight loss and exercise intervention. Eighteen patients had hepatitis C and 13 had other types of chronic liver disease.

The intervention included regular meetings with a dietitian and 150 minutes of aerobic exercise each week.

During the study period, 21 patients achieved and maintained weight loss with a mean reduction of 9.4% body weight, senior author Dr. E. Powell, from Princess Alexandra Hospital in Brisbane, Australia, and colleagues note.

The amount of weight loss was significantly associated with the improvement in serum alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels (p = 0.04). However, maintaining weight loss was critical as ALT levels returned to baseline in the 10 patients who were unable to keep the weight off.

Weight loss also had a beneficial effect on fasting serum insulin levels. Once again, this effect disappeared in subjects who regained their weight, the authors report.

Lastly, successful weight loss was linked to significant improvements in both physical and mental components of health-related quality of life, the researchers state.

Predictors of sustained weight loss included attaining realistic levels of exercise and higher fasting insulin levels at enrollment.

"This study demonstrates that investment in weight reduction has the ability to reduce risk factors associated with progression of liver disease," the authors note. "These results suggest that treatment of overweight patients should form an important component of management of those with chronic liver disease."

Gut 2004;53:413-419.

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