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Research Updates | Liver Disease

Effect of a low free sugar diet on NAFLD

08 / 04 / 19

Finding:  In this small short-term trial in the USA, a diet very low in free sugars appears to help teenage boys with NAFLD.


This US study aimed to determine the effect of a diet low in free sugars in 11-16-year-old mostly Hispanic boys with NAFLD. An 8-week RCT randomised 40 boys into an intervention diet or usual diet groups. The intervention diet was individualised menu plans to limit free sugars to 3% energy. The mean decrease in hepatic steatosis over 8 weeks was significantly greater for the intervention diet group (25% to 17%) vs the usual diet group (21% to 20%)- an adjusted mean difference of -6.23%. Mean decrease in ALA (alanine aminotransferase) level was also significantly greater for the intervention group, an adjusted ratio of 0.65U/L. Diet adherence was high and no adverse events reported. The authors conclude these findings are preliminary and more research is needed to assess long-term and clinical outcomes.


Schwimmer JB, Ugalde-Nicalo P, Welsh JA, Angeles JE et al. Effect of a low free sugar diet vs usual diet on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in adolescent boys: a randomised clinical trial. JAMA 2019; 321:256-265

Link to abstract: