Fatty liver disease is a common condition in the western world.
Fatty liver may progress to steatohepatitis and cirrhosis.
It is not yet known whether fatty liver disease results in higher health care utilization and costs.
|Subjects with fatty liver disease had 26% higher overall health care costs|
Dr Sebastian Baumeister and colleagues from Germany used data from the Study of Health in Pomerania to assess the relation of fatty liver disease to self-reported health care utilization and costs at baseline, and at 5 years.
The Study of Health in Pomerania is a general population cohort study of 4,310 adults aged 20 to 79 years at baseline.
The team defined fatty liver disease as the presence of a hyperechogenic pattern of the liver and elevated serum alanine aminotransferase levels.
The team found that average annual overall health care costs at baseline and follow-up measurement were higher for individuals with sonographic fatty liver, and increased serum alanine aminotransferase levels.
The research team noted that after controlling for comorbid conditions, subjects with sonographic fatty liver disease, and increased serum alanine aminotransferase levels had 26% higher overall health care costs at 5-year follow-up.
Analyses also suggest that diabetes and cardiovascular disease might mediate the relation of fatty liver disease and health care utilization and costs.
Dr Baumeisters' team concluded, "Policies seeking to minimize costs associated with fatty liver disease might want to consider addressing behavioral risk factors of fatty liver disease."