Losing weight may be especially difficult for people with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but many can succeed via an intensive weight loss program.

“Globally, obesity and NAFLD are an increasing cause of significant morbidity and mortality, with few effective weight loss strategies available,” says Ann Farrell, MBBS, of St. Vincent’s Hospital in Melbourne.

Farrell and her colleagues conducted a retrospective study of obese individuals attending an outpatient weight management clinic between July 2015 and February 2019. Of the 211 people included in the final analysis, 53% had NAFLD.

The participants were put on a ketogenic, very low energy diet that consisted mainly of meal-replacement drinks and contained 800 calories daily for 12 weeks or until they lost at least 5% of their body weight.

After three months, 49% of people with NAFLD and 67% of those without the condition achieved this weight loss target. By six months, these rates had risen to 61% and 75%, respectively.

Having fatty liver disease was the only factor that predicted not crossing the 5% weight loss threshold.