Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Ethnicity: Lessons Learned from the Arab Population in Israel

Naim Abu-Freha, lior Eraki, Sarah Weissmann, Bracha Cohen, Michal Gordon, Heba Abu Kaf, Ohad Etzion, Muhammad Abu Tailakh, Jorge Shmuel Delgado

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common liver disease. We aimed to investigate the potential similarities and differences regarding the disease among Arabs and Jews. Retrospective study included all patients older than 18 years with NAFLD diagnosis according to ICD-10 codes. Data regarding demographics, comorbidities, and outcomes were retrieved using the MdClone platform from “Clalit” in Israel. Data concerning 34,090 Arab patients and 173,500 Jewish patients with NAFLD were included. Arab patients were significantly younger at diagnosis (35.0 ± 13 years vs. 43.6 ± 15 years, p < 0.001) and had higher rates of obesity and diabetes mellitus (69.5% vs. 56.5% and 27.0% vs. 22.7%, p < 0.001, respectively). Arab patients had higher rates of cirrhosis and portal hypertension-related complications (2.5% vs. 2.0%, p < 0.001), esophageal varices (0.9% vs. 0.5%, p < 0.001), spontaneous bacterial peritonitis (0.3% vs. 0.1%, p < 0.001), and hepatorenal syndrome (0.3% vs. 0.1%, p < 0.001). There was no significant difference in the prevalence of hepatocellular carcinoma between study groups (0.4% vs. 0.5%, p = 0.156). Liver transplantation was performed in 0.2% of Arab NAFLD patients compared to 0.07% of Jewish NAFLD patients (p < 0.001). Lower rates of all-cause mortality were found among the Arab NAFLD patients versus Jewish NAFLD patients (7.7% versus 11.5%, p < 0.001). According to the Cox regression model, Arab ethnicity is a risk factor for death with OR of 1.36. Significant differences regarding comorbidities, complications, liver transplantations rates, and all-cause mortality were found among NAFLD patients of different ethnicities, hence specific population need specific consideration in prevention, early diagnosis and follow up.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Immigrant and Minority Health
StatePublished - 7 May 2024


  • Arab
  • Ethnicity
  • Israel

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Epidemiology
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health


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