Dysregulated iron metabolism is associated with altered body composition and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD); however, mechanisms underlying this association remain undefined. We investigated this association in 117 women. Middle-aged women (≥45 years old (y)) were heavier and had lower serum iron, higher serum hepcidin, ferritin, and severe NAFLD incidence than young adult women (<45 y). Age-adjusted linear regression analysis revealed that young adult women with the highest serum iron:ferritin ratio (Tertile 3) had a 5.08-unit increased percentage of muscle mass [β = 5.08 (1.48–8.68), p < 0.001] and a 1.21-unit decreased percentage visceral fat mass [β = −1.21 (−2.03 to −0.39), p < 0.001] compared with those with the lowest serum iron:ferritin ratio (Tertile 1; reference). The iron:ferritin dietary pattern, characterized by high consumption of beef, lamb, dairy products, fruits, and whole grains, and low consumption of refined carbohydrates (rice, noodles, and bread and pastries), and deep- and stir-fried foods, predicted a 90% [odds ratio: 0.10, 95% confidence interval: 0.02–0.47, p < 0.001] reduced risk of mild vs. moderate and severe NAFLD in young adult women. Our findings suggest that the serum iron:ferritin ratio more accurately predicts body composition and reduced risk of severe fatty liver progression in young adult women compared to middle-aged women.
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