Obesity Surgery

, Volume 28, Issue 4, pp 1109–1116 | Cite as

Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Morbidly Obese Individuals Undergoing Bariatric Surgery: Prevalence and Effect of the Pre-Bariatric Very Low Calorie Diet

  • Katherine J. P. Schwenger
  • Sandra E. Fischer
  • Timothy D. Jackson
  • Allan Okrainec
  • Johane P. Allard
Original Contributions



Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) affects 75 to 100% of the patients undergoing bariatric surgery (BSx), with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) being present in 24 to 98% of the patients. We do not know whether these rates were before or after a very low calorie diet (VLCD) often prescribed before laparoscopic BSx and what is the prevalence of NAFLD post-VLCD.


The purpose of this study is to determine the prevalence of simple steatosis (SS) and NASH in obese individuals undergoing BSx post-VLCD and assess biochemical markers pre- and post-VLCD in a subgroup of patients.


One hundred and thirty-nine patients undergoing BSx at a single Canadian bariatric program had biochemical and clinical variables collected pre-VLCD. In 21 patients, biochemical measurements were repeated post-VLCD. During BSx, a wedged liver biopsy was performed in all patients and histology was reported as normal liver (NL), SS, or NASH.


NAFLD was diagnosed in 76.3% of the BSx patients with 61.9% having SS and 14.4% having NASH; 23.7% had NL. Those with NASH had significantly higher (p < 0.05) pre-VLCD ALT, AST, insulin resistance, and proportion of individuals with diabetes compared to those with NL. Overall, VLCD resulted in significant decreases in BMI, ALP, fasting glucose and insulin, HbA1c, total cholesterol, HDL and LDL cholesterol, and significant increases in AST and ALT. Changes were similar between groups.


Post-VLCD, the prevalence of NAFLD and NASH was lower compared to published reports, with almost 25% of the patients having a NL. With VLCD, metabolic and clinical changes were similar between the three groups suggesting that pre-VLCD factors may affect liver histology.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease Very low calorie diet Bariatric surgery Obesity 



The authors are appreciative and acknowledge the important contributions made by the research assistants, clinical staff, surgical staff, bariatric clinic nurses, operating room nurses, and study participants at the University Health Network.


This study was funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research, Operating Grant MOP-126139.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Authors 1–3 and 5 have no conflict of interest to declare. Author 4 has relevant financial activities outside of the submitted work. He is provided an honorarium for speaking and teaching from Ethicon and Medtronic.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki Declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of Medical ScienceUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  2. 2.Toronto General HospitalUniversity Health NetworkTorontoCanada
  3. 3.Department of Laboratory Medicine and PathobiologyUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  4. 4.Division of General SurgeryUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  5. 5.Division of General Surgery|University Health NetworkTorontoCanada
  6. 6.Department of MedicineUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada
  7. 7.Department of Nutritional SciencesUniversity of TorontoTorontoCanada

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