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International Journal of Endocrinology
Volume 2013, Article ID 381014, 8 pages
Research Article

Hepatic Steatosis and Thyroid Function Tests in Overweight and Obese Children

1Department of Pediatrics, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale Regina Elena, 324 00161 Rome, Italy
2Institute of Translational Pharmacology, National Research Council, 00133 Rome, Italy

Received 30 October 2012; Revised 11 January 2013; Accepted 19 January 2013

Academic Editor: Carine Beysen

Copyright © 2013 L. Pacifico et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Objectives. Associations between thyroid function and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are unknown in childhood. Thus, the aim of the present study was to investigate in 402 consecutive overweight/obese children the association between thyroid function tests and hepatic steatosis as well as metabolic variables. Methods. Hepatic steatosis was diagnosed by ultrasound after exclusion of infectious and metabolic disorders. Fasting serum samples were taken for determination of thyroid function (TSH, FT4, and FT3), along with alanine aminotransferase (ALT), lipid profile, glucose, insulin, and insulin resistance (IR). Results. Eighty-eight children (21.9%) had TSH above the normal range (>4.0 mIU/L). FT3 and FT4 were within the reference intervals in all subjects. Elevated TSH was associated with increased odds of having hepatic steatosis (OR 2.10 (95% CI, 1.22–3.60)), hepatic steatosis with elevated ALT (2.42 (95% CI, 1.29–4.51)), hypertriglyceridemia, elevated total cholesterol, and IR as well as metabolic syndrome (considered as a single clinical entity), after adjustment for age, gender, pubertal status, and body mass index-SD score (or waist circumference). Conclusions. In overweight/obese children, elevated TSH concentration is a significant predictor of hepatic steatosis and lipid and glucose dysmetabolism, independently of the degree of total and visceral obesity.