Ethnic disparities in liver fat accumulation in school-aged children

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Objective: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has a different prevalence in adults from different ethnic groups. This study examined whether these ethnic differences originate in early life and could be explained by early-life factors. Methods: This observational study was embedded in a population-based prospective cohort study from fetal life onward among 2,570 children born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Information about prepregnancy, pregnancy, and childhood factors, as well as childhood BMI, was obtained from questionnaires and physical examinations. Liver fat was assessed by magnetic resonance imaging at age 10 years. Results: Median liver fat fraction was 2.0% (95% CI: 1.2%-5.3%), and NAFLD prevalence was 2.8%. Children from a Turkish background had the highest median liver fat percentage (2.5%, 95% CI: 1.2%-10.7%) and NAFLD prevalence (9.1%). Children of Cape Verdean, Dutch Antillean, Surinamese-Creole, or Turkish background had a higher total liver fat fraction compared with children with a Dutch background (p < 0.05). After controlling for early-life factors, these differences persisted only in children with a Turkish background. Conclusions: Prevalence of liver fat accumulation and NAFLD differs between ethnic subgroups living in the Netherlands, especially for those with a Turkish background. Early-life factors have a strong influence on these associations and may hold clues for future preventive strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1472-1482
Number of pages11
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We gratefully acknowledge the contribution of general practitioners, hospitals, midwives, and pharmacies in Rotterdam. The general design of the Generation R Study was made possible by financial support from the Erasmus University Medical Center, the Netherlands Organization for Health Research and Development, and the Ministry of Health, Welfare, and Sport. The study was supported by the European Research Council (Consolidator Grant ERC‐2014‐CoG‐648916) and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (Grant Agreement No. 733206 LifeCycle).

Funding Information:
Erasmus Medisch Centrum; Horizon 2020 Framework Programme, Grant/Award Number: 733206 LifeCycle; ZonMw; Horizon 2020; European Union; European Research Council, Grant/Award Number: ERC‐2014‐CoG‐648916; Ministry of Health; Health Research; Erasmus University Medical Center Funding information

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Authors. Obesity published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of The Obesity Society (TOS).


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