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Reassessment of the Hispanic Disparity: Hepatic Steatosis Is More Prevalent in Mexican Americans Than Other Hispanics

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Hepatic steatosis (HS) is a growing problem in adults worldwide, with racial/ethnic disparity in the prevalence of the disease. The purpose of this study was to characterize the racial/ethnic prevalence of the stages (normal/mild [S0/S1], moderate [S2], and severe [S3]) of HS in Mexican Americans and other Hispanics compared to other racial/ethnic groups. We analyzed data for 5,492 individuals 12 years and older from the newly released National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey 2017-2018, which is a representative sample of the US adult population. HS was diagnosed by FibroScan using controlled attenuation parameter values: S0, <238; S1, 238-259; S2, 260-290; S3, >290. We analyzed the data using the bivariate chi-squared test and multinomial regression. The prevalence of HS overall was 46.9% (S2,16.6%; S3, 30.3%). The prevalence of S3 was highest among Mexican Americans (42.8%), lowest among Blacks (21.6%), 27.6% in other Hispanics, and 30.6% in Whites (P < 0.05). Mexican Americans were about 2 times more likely than Whites to have S2 and S3, while other Hispanics showed no difference from Whites. In an adjusted model, the common risk factors of S2 and S3 were male sex, older ages, high waist-to-hip ratio, body mass index ≥25, and high triglycerides (P < 0.05). Other risk factors for S3 were hemoglobin A1c ≥5.7 and highly sensitive C-reactive protein ≥10 mg/dL (P < 0.05). Conclusion: Our study challenges the paradigm that HS is higher in Hispanics overall; rather, our data show that HS is higher in Mexican Americans and not non-Mexican American Hispanics.

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