Curbing Liver Fat Is Key to Reducing Health Risks
June 17, 2019
The Times of Israel – A new study by researchers at Ben-Gurion University suggested that reducing liver fat rather than just losing weight is key to minimizing the long-term health risks tied to obesity.
The study, published in the Journal of Hepatology, used magnetic resource imaging (MRI) to track different types of fat in the body, while also examining how different types of diets affected fat deposits over time.
Comparing a low-carb Mediterranean diet to a low-fat one, the study found the former had a more pronounced effect of getting rid of fat in the liver, pancreas and around the heart, even though the overall weight loss was similar. The researchers said moderate physical exercise also helps get rid of visceral fat, which is stored in the stomach.
The research team recorded a 30 percent drop in the levels of liver fat in those on the Mediterranean diet, which it said was key to curbing obesity-related health risks, such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease. The study also recorded a decrease of 11 percent in fat around the heart and a 25 percent reduction in visceral fat, as well as moderate weight loss.
Prof. Iris Shai from BGU’s School of Public Health, who led the team of scientists that included researchers from Harvard and Germany’s Leipzig University, says the study’s findings could help shape medical protocols by tailoring them to address different types of fat.
“Healthy nutrition, while also maintaining consistent, moderate weight loss, has a much more dramatic impact on levels of body fat related to diabetes, heart disease and cardiovascular disease than we previously thought,” says Prof. Shai.
“At the same time the development of similar technologies could one day present alternatives to taking liver biopsies from patients and will allow repeat measurements in order to adjudicate a particular obese patient’s level of health risk, as well as his/her response to treatment,” says Prof. Ilan Shelef, a member of BGU’s Faculty of Health Sciences and head of the Imaging Unit at Soroka University Medical Center.