- 1Department of Woman, Child and of General and Specialized Surgery, Università degli Studi della Campania "Luigi Vanvitelli", Via Luigi De Crecchio 2, 80138 Napoli, Italy.
Background: Recently, the new definition of Metabolic (dysfunction) associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) has gained remarkable scientific interest. We aimed to evaluate the effectiveness of MAFLD definition in selecting obese children at higher cardiovascular risk.
Methods: A total of 954 obese children and adolescents was retrospectively enrolled. Clinical, biochemical, and metabolic evaluations were performed. Hepatic steatosis was assessed by liver ultrasound. According to the metabolic status, the population was divided in three groups. Group 1 included obese patients without both non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and metabolic dysregulation; group 2 included patients with obesity and NAFLD (then encompassing one MAFLD criterion); group 3 included patients with obesity, NAFLD and evidence of metabolic dysregulation (then encompassing more than 1 MAFLD criteria).
Results: Patients of Group 3 showed a worse cardiometabolic profile, as also proven by the higher percentage of prediabetes (defined as the presence of impaired fasting glucose or impaired glucose tolerance) compared to other groups (p = 0.001).
Conclusions: MAFLD criteria in obese children seem to be less accurate in identifying patients having an intrinsic higher cardiometabolic risk. This suggests the need for a more accurate definition in the context of pediatric obesity.