Association of ALT and the metabolic syndrome among Mexican children
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Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is emerging as a component of the metabolic syndrome (MetS); Hispanics being particularly predisposed. Alanine aminotransferase (ALT) is considered a marker of NAFLD. The aim of this study was to determine the prevalence and associations between ALT elevations and MetS in normal-weight, overweight and obese Mexican children and adolescents, since data in Mexico is scarce. Body mass index (BMI), waist circumference (WC), percentage body fat, blood pressure, glucose, lipid profiles, ALT and aspartate aminotransferase (AST) were measured in 236, 6-12yo normal-weight, overweight and obese Mexicans from eight public schools. The results showed that elevated ALT (>40 IU/L) was found in 17.7% of the obese and overweight population, with no gender difference. The prevalence of elevated ALT increased linearly across BMI categories (p = 0.001), from 0.0% for the normal-weight group (95%CI 0.0-8.0) to 22.4% for the obese one (95%CI 16.2-30.2). AST/ALT ratio <1 also increased linearly, as did the prevalence of MetS (p = 0.001), from 0.0% for the normal-weight group to 40.3% for the obese one. The prevalence of MetS was strongly associated with elevated ALT (p = 0.002), 50% in the elevated ALT group (95%CI 34.1-65.9) and 24.1% in the normal ALT one (95%CI 18.1-31.3). There was also a strong association between MetS and an AST/ALT ratio <1. WC was the best predictor of elevated ALT (AOR = 7.13). Pearson correlation showed that MetS components were significantly correlated with elevated ALT. Therefore elevated ALT levels were highly prevalent and strongly associated with MetS in Mexican children, it should be screened in overweight and obese children. © 2012 Asian Oceanian Association for the Study of Obesity.