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Suboptimal Fitness Levels Seen with Fatty Liver Disease

Exercise training could make a difference

FRIDAY, March 28 (HealthDay News) -- Among individuals with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the majority of patients have suboptimal fitness and physical activity levels, researchers report in the April issue of Hepatology. They therefore suggest that exercise should be an important part of treatment.

Joanne Krasnoff, Ph.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues investigated measures of health-related fitness and physical activity in a sample of 37 patients with biopsy-confirmed non-alcoholic fatty liver disease of varying histologic severity. Assessments included treadmill testing of cardiorespiratory fitness, measurement of quadriceps muscle strength and percent body fat, and a physical activity level questionnaire. Liver histology was graded based on degree of steatosis, fibrosis, necroinflammatory activity, and diagnosis of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Fewer than 20 percent of patients met recommended guidelines for physical activity levels, and 97.3 percent had excessive total body fat (greater than 25 percent in men, greater than 30 percent in women), the researchers report. Peak oxygen uptake, a measure of cardiorespiratory fitness, was significantly lower in individuals with more severe necroinflammatory activity and in those diagnosed with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis than in those with less severe disease.

"It would appear rational and prudent for health care providers to recommend exercise training to improve health-related fitness as an integral role in the care of patients with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease," the authors conclude.

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