Fatty liver disease dramatically rises among teenagers due to belly fat

Fatty liver disease dramatically rises among teenagers due to belly fat

“Getting youngsters to eat healthier, be more active and maintain a healthy weight is going to have the biggest impact, because there aren’t any good drug treatments for fatty liver disease says Dr. Miriam Vos, a pediatric gastroenterologist at Emory University in Atlanta. 

What is it?
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a largely silent accumulation of fat in their liver cells that dramatically increases your risk of cardiovascular disease and liver problems.  Historically it only ever hit rich people as they aged.  Now it is exploding amongst children and teenagers all across the Western World (takeaways anyone?). 

NAFLD is growing everywhere
Dr. Vos and colleagues, recently announced that NAFLD among U.S. teenagers aged just 12-18 has ALMOST TRIPLED in the past two decades, from 3.6% to 9.9%.  This will be mirrored in New Zealand, Australia and Western Europe.  Fast foods anyone? 

The wake-up call

  1. NAFLD in adolescents now affects about one in 10 US children
  2. Having a fatty liver raises your risk of diabetes by 400%
  3. If you get any cancer with a fatty, picked, weak and diseased liver, then you are looking at an early death
  4. The liver processes all the carcinogenic waste so without it functioning well, your odds of survival drop to zero very rapidly
  5. Over 95% of organ cancer patients die of liver failure

Dr Vos said “…just like obesity is much easier to prevent than to treat...NAFLD seems to be increasing faster than the prevalence of obesity.  We certainly see 7, 8 and 9-year-olds with it.  We think that liver disease is reversible, particularly for a teenager if they can make substantial changes and improve their weight” 

Study by Vos MB, Welsh J “Prevalence of suspected NAFLD is increasing among U.S. adolescents” as presented at the annual Digestive Disease Week 2012 (Abstract 705), in San Diego to the gathering of nearly 16,000 physicians, researchers and academics.  The researchers studied the information gleaned from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) 1988-2008 on 10,359 patients ages 12 to 18 and found that NAFLD in young people has risen so much it now affects 10% of children.  As reported by ABC News Medical Unit on abc.go.com on May 18, 2012 and by MedPage Today on May 25, 2012. 

Posted: Monday 28 May 2012