COVID-19 causes a rise in liver disease as a result of lifestyle changes

Study: Liver Disease Increases As Result Of Lifestyle Changes Due To Covid-19

Liver International has published a new study that says that people who changed their lifestyles during the first year of the pandemic had a bad effect on their liver health.

Before the COVID pandemic, 22 people were diagnosed with metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD).

During the pandemic, 44 people were diagnosed with MAFLD. The study looked at health checkup data from 973 people at MedCity21, an advanced medical center for preventive medicine founded by Osaka City University Hospital in 2014.

“We found routine late-night meals, or dinner two hours before bedtime, as an independent lifestyle predictor of developing MAFLD before the pandemic,” says Hideki Fujii, the study’s first author. However, analysis revealed higher daily alcohol intake as an independent predictor of the disease during the pandemic, he adds.


Researchers looked at the alcohol use, exercise, sleep length, meals per day, and late-night meals of 22 individuals who acquired MAFLD between July 2018 and December 2019. According to a univariate and multivariate analysis of the data that controlled for other risk factors such as age, sex, and so on, only the proportion of late-night meals was significantly higher, distinguishing it as an independent predictor of developing MAFLD.

During pandemic

Researchers discovered an increase in alcohol consumption among the additional 44 individuals who had MAFLD between December 2019 and December 2020, primarily among patients under the age of 60. As the pandemic persists, this constitutes a significant segment of the working-age population, Dr. Fujii says, “suggesting a need to more closely monitor and treat this lifestyle shift.” In addition, those who acquired MAFLD during the pandemic had a greater number of smokers and those who ate two meals a day instead of three.

“Our data comes from people who returned for routine follow-ups through 2020 after having abdominal ultrasonography in 2018,” adds Dr. Fujii. “We were curious about the effect COVID-19 and its associated “new normal” lifestyles had on MAFLD incidences,” says Dr. Fujii. This is something that hasn’t been known until now, but now we know more about it.

As the epidemic continues through 2022, these findings will become more important for patient lifestyle counseling in order to keep the number of people who get MAFLD from rising.