Fatty liver disease is a symptom of metabolic syndrome and is associated with obesity and diabetes. The disease is termed as non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) but there is no approved medical drug treatment. Weight loss is the most recommended strategy to deal with NAFLD.
A new study has revealed that exercise can assist in reversing the adverse health impact associated with NALFD. The study participants consisted of 48 people divided into four equal groups of 12 people: low-to-moderate intensity, high-volume aerobic exercise (LO:HI); high-intensity, low-volume aerobic exercise (HI:LO); low-to-moderate intensity, low-volume aerobic exercise (LO:LO); and placebo (PLA) for an eight-week period. Change in liver fat was assessed by magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS).
All three groups which contained different degrees of exercise revealed improvement in reducing liver fat of about 18-29% from the average baseline 7.5%, compared with the placebo group in which liver fat increased by an average of 14%. The improvement was independent of weight loss. There were no significant differences between the various aerobic exercise regimens in reducing liver fat over an eight-week period. However, the investigators conducted additional exploratory analyses and proposed that there was a trend towards greater reduction in liver fat and visceral fat in the two groups that utilized either high intensity with low volume (HI:LO) or low intensity with high volume (LO:HI) aerobic exercise.
“The results from our study show that all exercise doses, irrespective of volume or intensity, were efficacious in reducing liver fat and visceral fat by an amount that was clinically significant, in previously inactive, overweight, or obese adults compared with placebo. These changes were observed without clinically significant weight loss,” explained lead investigator Dr. Nathan Johnson, PhD, Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney, Australia. “We found no difference between exercise regimens for these benefits,” added Jacob George, PhD, MBBS, Professor of Hepatic Medicine at the University of Sydney, Australia, and Head of the Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology at Westmead Hospital and University of Sydney.
Shelley Keating; Daniel Hackett; Helen Parker; Helen O’Connor; James Gerofi; Amanda Sainsbury; Michael Baker; Vivienne Chuter; Ian Caterson; Jacob George; and Nathan Johnson. Effect of aerobic exercise training dose on liver fat and visceral adiposity. Journal of Hepatology, April 2015 DOI: 10.1016/j.jhep.2015.02.022