FATTY LIVER “EPIDEMIC” IN YOUNG PEOPLE
Non-alcoholic FATTY LIVER disease (often referred to as NAFLD or fatty liver) affects about 30% of the U.S. population and is poised to become the most common cause of cirrhosis of the liver and therefore the most common reason a liver transplant will be needed in the future.
The risk factors for fatty liver are not easy to tackle:
- Carrying extra weight, especially around your belly
- Abnormal cholesterol panel, especially triglycerides
- Abnormal blood sugars, like pre-diabetes or diabetes
Check out this article in The Guardian about the rapidly climbing rate of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in young adults.
“Experts are warning that high levels of fatty liver disease among young people, caused by being overweight, could signal a potential public health crisis.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is fairly common among older adults, detectable in about a quarter of the population. But a study has found that substantial numbers of 24-year-olds are also affected, putting them at risk of serious later health problems, such as liver cancer, type-2 diabetes and heart attacks.
Researchers from Bristol University tested more than 4,000 young people enrolled in a longitudinal study called the Children of the 90s, set up to follow the lives and health of children born in 1991 and 1992 in Avon, England.
All of them had been given an ultrasound at the age of 18, which revealed that 2.5% had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Five years later (at the age of 23-24!), a newer kind of scan called transient elastography or fibroscan detected that over 20% had fatty deposits on the liver, or steatosis, indicating non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Half of those were classified as severe. The scans also found that 2.4% had fibrosis – scarring on the liver. Severe scarring can cause cirrhosis….
Prof Philip Newsome, vice-secretary of the European Association for the Study of the Liver, said, “These data highlight the impact of the obesogenic environment and, in particular, its role in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in a much younger sector of the population. This requires swift changes in public policy if we are to defuse the ticking time-bomb of obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.”
At Comprehensive Gastrointestinal Health, not only do we have the knowledge on how to evaluate and care for liver disease, but we have the holistic approach and comprehensive team to help achieve weight loss goals and improvement in the metabolic risk factors that cause fatty liver disease. Come visit our gastroenterologist, nurse practitioner, registered dietitian, behavioral counselor, and licensed physical therapist/fitness consultant to start making meaningful change and optimizing your liver health. Call 224.407.4400 or visit compgihealth.com to schedule an appointment.