People with inactive lifestyles and unhealthy sleeping habits are at greater risk of developing metabolic dysfunction–associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), according to a new study.

Fatty liver disease, the leading chronic liver disease throughout the world, affects around 25 per cent of adults. Metabolic disorders, including obesity and type 2 diabetes, power this type of liver disease which can develop into end-stage liver disease and poses a significant health and economic burden to society.

Yan Liu, Ph.D., of the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, said: “People with poor night-time sleep and prolonged daytime napping have the highest risk for developing fatty liver disease.

“Our study found a moderate improvement in sleep quality was related to a 29% reduction in the risk for fatty liver disease.”

The study involved analysing self-reported data on the sleep behaviours of 5,011 Chinese adults with fatty liver disease. The researchers discovered that a “late bedtime, snoring, and daytime napping for over 30 minutes was significantly associated with an increased risk of MAFLD.”

The findings reported that moderately improving sleep quality reduced the likelihood of developing fatty liver disease and that people who are inactive, obese and suffering from poor sleep quality experience greater adverse effects.

Yan Liu explained: “Our study provides evidence that even a moderate improvement in sleep quality is sufficient to reduce the risk for fatty liver disease, especially in those with unhealthy lifestyles.

“Given that large proportions of subjects suffering from poor sleep quality are underdiagnosed and undertreated, our study calls for more research into this field and strategies to improve sleep quality.”

The study was published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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