Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in children resulting from the obesity epidemic is widespread and increasing. Although the complexities of pediatric NAFLD are recognized, screening and therapies in children remain limited. Moreover, pediatric NAFLD diagnosis fails to consider insulin resistance and metabolic dysfunction as important determinants. In this issue of the JCI, Cohen et al. explored the contribution of dietary factors to the pathogenesis of NAFLD in adolescent boys with biopsy-proven NAFLD and control participants. Notably, dietary sugar restriction over 8 weeks decreased de novo lipogenesis (DNL) and hepatic fat. The change in DNL correlated with changes in insulin and weight, but not with changes in hepatic fat, supporting the relevance of metabolic dysfunction to NAFLD. These results confirm the pathological link between excessive dietary sugar intake and NAFLD in children and support recent recommendations to change the nomenclature of NAFLD to metabolic associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD).
Stephanie T. Chung, Sheela N. Magge