Objective: A healthy lifestyle is the first-line treatment in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but specific dietary recommendations are lacking. Therefore, we aimed to determine whether dietary macronutrient composition is associated with NAFLD. Design: Participants from the Rotterdam Study were assessed on (1) average intake of macronutrients (protein, carbohydrate, fat, fibre) using a Food Frequency Questionnaire and (2) NAFLD presence using ultrasonography, in absence of excessive alcohol, steatogenic drugs and viral hepatitis. Macronutrients were analysed using the nutrient density method and ranked (Q1-Q4). Logistic regression analyses were adjusted for sociodemographic, lifestyle and metabolic covariates. Moreover, analyses were adjusted for and stratified by body mass index (BMI) (25 kg/m2). Also, substitution models were built. Results: In total, 3882 participants were included (age 70±9, 58% female). NAFLD was present in 1337 (34%) participants of whom 132 were lean and 1205 overweight. Total protein was associated with overweight NAFLD after adjustment for sociodemographic and lifestyle covariates (ORQ4vsQ1 1.40; 95% CI 1.11 to 1.77). This association was driven by animal protein (ORQ4vsQ1 1.54; 95% CI 1.20 to 1.98). After adjustment for metabolic covariates, only animal protein remained associated with overweight NAFLD (ORQ4vsQ1 1.36; 95% CI 1.05 to 1.77). Monosaccharides and disaccharides were associated with lower overall NAFLD prevalence (ORQ4vsQ1 0.66; 95% CI 0.52 to 0.83) but this effect diminished after adjustment for metabolic covariates and BMI. No consistent associations were observed for fat subtypes or fibre. There were no substitution effects. Conclusion: This large population-based study shows that high animal protein intake is associated with NAFLD in overweight, predominantly aged Caucasians, independently of well-known risk factors. Contrary to previous literature, our results do not support a harmful association of monosaccharides and disaccharides with NAFLD.

Additional Metadata
Keywords diet, epidemiology, fatty liver
Persistent URL dx.doi.org/10.1136/gutjnl-2017-315940, hdl.handle.net/1765/109698
Journal Gut (English Edition): an international journal of gastroenterology & hepatology
Alferink, L.J.M. (Louise J.M.), Kiefte-de Jong, J.C, Erler, N.S, Veldt, B.J, Schoufour, J.D, de Knegt, R.J, … Darwish Murad, S. (2018). Association of dietary macronutrient composition and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in an ageing population: The Rotterdam Study. Gut (English Edition): an international journal of gastroenterology & hepatology. doi:10.1136/gutjnl-2017-315940