A recent study (LA Orci et al. Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol 2016; 14: 1398-1411) analyzed data from 28 randomized trials (>1600 patients) and performed a meta-analysis regarding the utility of exercise for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
- Physical activity, independently from diet change, was associated with improvement in intrahepatic lipid content (-0.69) and with reduction in alanine aminotransferase.
The authors note that the effects of lipid reduction due to exercise is considered moderate-to-large. In several trials, another effect of exercise that was measured was a reduction in insulin resistance.
- The duration of the effect of exercise is not known and there is not a clear “dose” of exercise.
- Lack of histologic data (only 2 studies had histology data)
My take: This study suggests that exercise by improving metabolic status is important in improving NAFLD; thus, a fatty liver is not just about being fat.