(HealthDay News) — Given population obesity trends, the increase in the demand for liver transplantation (LT) for nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) noted since 2000 is expected to continue, according to a study published online in Hepatology.

Neehar D. Parikh, MD, from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and colleagues examined the temporal trend behind the increase in obesity and NASH-related additions to the LT waitlist in the United States and made projections for future NASH burden on the LT waitlist. Data on the number of NASH-related LT waitlist additions were obtained from the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network database from 2000 to 2014. During the same time period, data on the obese US population were obtained from the US Census Bureau and the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.

The researchers observed a significant increase of 44.9% in the proportion of obese individuals from 2000 to 2014, and the number of NASH-related annual waitlist additions increased from 391 to 1,605. In derivation and validation cohorts, there was a strong correlation for increase in the prevalence of obesity and LT waitlist additions nine years later (R²=0.9). Between 2016 and 2030, the annual NASH-related waitlist additions were expected to increase by 55.4%. Significant regional variation was seen in obesity rates and the expected increase in NASH-related waitlist additions (P<.01).

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“Continued public health efforts to curb obesity prevalence are needed to reduce the projected future burden of NASH,” the authors write.

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Parikh ND, Marrero WJ, Wang J, et al. Projected increase in obesity and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis-related liver transplantation waitlist additions in the United States [published online August 17, 2017]. Hepatology. doi:10.1002/hep.29473