Screening for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in children: do guidelines provide enough guidance?

B. G.P. Koot, V. Nobili

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Background: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disease in the industrialized world in children. Its high prevalence and important health risks make NAFLD highly suitable for screening. In practice, screening is widely, albeit not consistently, performed. Aim: To review the recommendations on screening for NAFLD in children. Method: Recommendations on screening were reviewed from major paediatric obesity guidelines and NAFLD guidelines. A literature overview is provided on open questions and controversies. Results: Screening for NAFLD is advocated in all obesity and most NAFLD guidelines. Guidelines are not uniform in whom to screen, and most guidelines do not specify how screening should be performed in practice. Screening for NAFLD remains controversial, due to lack of a highly accurate screening tool, limited knowledge to predict the natural course of NAFLD and limited data on its cost effectiveness. Conclusions: Guidelines provide little guidance on how screening should be performed. Screening for NAFLD remains controversial because not all conditions for screening are fully met. Consensus is needed on the optimal use of currently available screening tools. Research should focus on new accurate screening tool, the natural history of NAFLD and the cost effectiveness of different screening strategies in children.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1050-1060
Number of pages11
JournalObesity Reviews
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - Sep 1 2017


  • Children
  • guidelines
  • non-alcoholic fatty liver disease
  • screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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