Life style

Liver disease on the rise due to lifestyle changes due to Covid

According to a new study published in the journal Liver International, liver disease was negatively affected by lifestyle changes during the first year of the pandemic.

The retrospective study used health checkup data of 973 participants between 2018 and 2020 from MedCity21, an advanced preventive medicine medical center established by Osaka City University Hospital in 2014, and found that new Diagnoses of fatty liver disease associated with metabolic dysfunction (MAFLD) have increased from 22 before the COVID pandemic to 44 during the pandemic.

“Before the pandemic, we found routine late-night meals, or dinner 2 hours before bedtime, as an independent lifestyle predictor of MAFLD development,” says Hideki Fujii, first author of the study,” however, the analysis showed higher daily alcohol consumption as an independent predictor of illness during the pandemic.


The researchers analyzed the lifestyle habits of the 22 patients who developed MAFLD between July 2018 and December 2019, which included alcohol consumption, exercise, sleep duration, daily meals and late-night meals. . Through univariate and multivariate analysis of the data to control for potential risk factors such as age, gender, etc., they found only the proportion of late-night meals to be significantly higher, making it an independent predictor of MAFLD development.

During the pandemic

Between December 2019 and December 2020, in the additional 44 patients who developed MAFLD, the researchers found an increase in alcohol consumption mainly in patients under the age of 60. “This represents a major proportion of the working-age population,” says Dr. Fujii, “suggesting the need to more closely monitor and address this lifestyle change as the pandemic continues” . Also, the proportion of smokers and those who ate 2 meals a day instead of 3 was higher among those who developed MAFLD during the pandemic.

“Our data is drawn from individuals who, after undergoing an abdominal ultrasound in 2018, returned for routine follow-ups through 2020,” says Dr. Fujii. Although the research team is aware that this suggests that most participants were healthy enough to work and were health conscious enough to voluntarily submit to health checkups, “we were curious about the impact that COVID-19 and its associated ‘new normal’ lifestyles had had on the implications of MAFLD,” continues Dr. Fujii – something that has so far remained unknown.

As the pandemic continues into 2022, these findings are increasingly relevant to lifestyle counseling for patients to prevent the growing number of people with MAFLD.

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