Lose Weight for a Healthier Liver

The latest research has confirmed bariatric surgery or lifestyle modifications could significantly diminish levels of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in obese patients.

The latest research has confirmed bariatric surgery or lifestyle modifications could significantly diminish levels of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) in obese patients.

Two studies published in Gastroenterology reported a weight reduction of 10% or more — stemming from a comprehensive lifestyle program – is integral to NASH resolution and reverse scarring of the liver in severely obese patients.

The first large prospective study explored the possible benefits of a 12-month lifestyle intervention on features associated with NASH.

Those who experienced 7-10% weight loss decreased severity of the disease, whereas 93% of the patients who hardly lost weight (less than 5%) actually experienced worse liver scarring.

In the second study, French experts had reported that one year following bariatric surgery, NASH had disappeared altogether from 85% of patients and even decreased the pathologic features after a 1-year follow up. However, further studies are necessary to determine the long-term impact bariatric surgery has on the morbidly obese patients afflicted with NASH.

Unfortunately, an effective NASH therapy has yet to be approved, so physicians must consistently urge patients to lose weight, eat a balanced diet, be active, and avoid alcohol or unnecessary medications.

Giulio Marchesini, MD, University of Bologna, Italy, said, “While the underlying cause of NASH is unclear, we most commonly see this condition in patients who are middle-aged and overweight or obese. These two large prospective cohort studies strengthen the evidence that, no matter how you lose weight, weight loss improves liver health. Both bariatric surgery for morbidly obese patients or lifestyle modifications are viable options.”