People with fatty liver are at an increased risk of developing diabetes, according to new research. Scientists at Stanford University in California have revealed that, as well as being an indicator of obesity, having a fatty liver could also be a factor in the onset of type 2 diabetes.
The study found that individuals with fatty liver were five times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those without one, and is believed to be independent of fasting insulin levels, used as a marker of insulin resistance.
The research was based on an investigation into 11,091 Koreans who were medically evaluated for factors such as fasting insulin concentration and abdominal ultrasound at baseline and then followed up five years later. Regardless of the levels of baseline insulin concentration, people with fatty liver were seen to have a significantly higher number of metabolic abnormalities such as triglyceride concentration and higher glucose, as well as a significantly increased risk of type 2 diabetes compare to those without fatty liver.
Sun Kim, senior author on the study, to be published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism, commented “Many patients and practitioners view fat in the liver as just ‘fat in the liver,’ but we believe that a diagnosis of fatty liver should raise an alarm for impending type 2 diabetes.”
She added “Our study shows that fatty liver, as diagnosed by ultrasound, strongly predicts the development of type 2 diabetes regardless of insulin concentration.”

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