1IRCCS-Azienda Ospedaliero, Universitaria di Bologna, 40138 Bologna, Italy.
2Department of Medical Sciences, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, A.O. Città della Salute e della Scienza di Torino, University of Turin, 10124 Turin, Italy.
3Department of Medical and Surgical Sciences, Alma Mater University of Bologna, 40138 Bologna, Italy.
Background: Behavioral programs are needed for prevention and treatment of NAFLD and the effectiveness of a web-based intervention (WBI) is similar to a standard group-based intervention (GBI) on liver disease biomarkers.
Objective: We aimed to test the long-term effectiveness of both programs on diabetes incidence, a common outcome in NAFLD progression.
Methods: 546 NAFLD individuals (212 WBI, 334 GBI) were followed up to 60 months with regular 6- to 12-month hospital visits. The two cohorts differed in several socio-demographic and clinical data. In the course of the years, the average BMI similarly decreased in both cohorts, by 5% or more in 24.4% and by 10% or more in 16.5% of cases available at follow-up. After excluding 183 cases with diabetes at entry, diabetes was newly diagnosed in 48 cases during follow-up (31 (16.6% of cases without diabetes at entry) in the GBI cohort vs. 17 (9.7%) in WBI; p = 0.073). Time to diabetes was similar in the two cohorts (mean, 31 ± 18 months since enrollment). At multivariable regression analysis, incident diabetes was significantly associated with prediabetes (odds ratio (OR) 4.40; 95% confidence interval (CI) 1.97-9.81; p < 0.001), percent weight change (OR 0.57; 95% CI 0.41-0.79; p < 0.001) and higher education (OR 0.49; 95% CI 0.27-0.86; p = 0.014), with no effect of other baseline socio-demographic, behavioral and clinical data, and of the type of intervention. The importance of weight change on incident diabetes were confirmed in a sensitivity analysis limited to individuals who completed the follow-up.
Conclusion: In individuals with NAFLD, WBI is as effective as GBI on the pending long-term risk of diabetes, via similar results on weight change.