Subjects with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Low serum potassium concentration or low dietary potassium intake can result in metabolic disorders.


Our objective was to evaluate the association between low serum potassium level and prevalence of NAFLD in a Chinese population.


A population-based cross-sectional study.


We conducted a community-based study in 8592 subjects to investigate the association of serum potassium with the risk of prevalent NAFLD. NAFLD was diagnosed by hepatic ultrasonography.


The prevalence rate of NAFLD was 30·3% in this population and gradually decreased across serum potassium quartiles. With the reduction in serum potassium level, participants have larger waist circumference (WC) and more severe insulin resistance. The correlations hold also in multivariate linear regression analysis. In logistic regression analysis, compared with subjects in the highest quartile of serum potassium level, the adjusted odds ratios (ORs) in the lowest quartile was 1·33 [95% confidence interval (CI), 1·11–1·60] for NAFLD, 1·81 (95% CI, 1·49–2·19) for insulin resistance and 1·58 (95% CI, 1·30–1·93) for central obesity. In subgroup analysis after multiple adjustments, significant relation between serum potassium level and prevalent NAFLD was detected in women, younger subjects, those with insulin resistance and those with central obesity, respectively.


Low serum potassium level significantly associated with prevalence of NAFLD in middle-aged and elderly Chinese.