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LIVER DISEASE IN TEENS

Posted Nov 04 2009 10:05pm

 By Marie Dufour, RD - Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a disease with various stages, from fatty liver (steatosis), to non alcoholic steatohepatitis (inflamed and scarred liver), to irreversible cirrhosis and final liver failure.

This kind of fatty liver disease is different from the alcoholic liver disease and is caused mainly by obesity. In fact, all of the stages correlate to insulin resistance and obesity. The greater the BMI, the greater the liver damage. Almost 30 million Americans have non alcoholic fatty liver disease. While this used to be a disease found typically in adults, the rise in childhood overweight is now making NAFLD an alarming pediatric problem, especially among overweight adolescent boys.

In a data analysis of adolescents and teenagers, the risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was not only associated with obesity, but also was 16 times greater in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. However, researchers found that the metabolic syndrome affected boys more than girls, increasing boys’ risk 20-fold while girls had about a threefold increased risk. They also found a wide difference in risk according to ethnicity: Hispanics showed a five-fold increased risk, while non-Hispanics showed a 34-fold increased risk. This implies that, in addition to obesity and metabolic syndrome, NAFLD is affected by environmental, biological, or genetic factors.

Why does it matter? NAFLD, if not stopped early, will progress into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), causing further irreversible liver scarring, up to irreversible cirrhosis. While it was conceivable for an adult to develop NAFLD in mid-life and slowly develop into cirrhosis in late years, say 70 to 80 years old, it is a shock to have teenagers develop the disease. What is the life expectancy of children so affected? What quality of life will they have? What will be the cost to their families and to society?

Fortunately, they are ways to ENTIRELY PREVENT the disease and its progression. For teenagers, it is more than ever crucial to:

1 – lose excess weight

2 – be physically active

3 – control high blood pressure

4 – maintain a healthy weight

5 – follow a plant-based diet with lean animal protein (egg whites, skim milk, fish & poultry), avoid saturated fats, and limit sweet drinks and refined sugars.

Ref: Graham RC, et al “Ethnic and sex differences in the association between metabolic syndrome and suspected nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents” J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2009.

Filed under: Lifestyle, diet, prevention, childhood obesity, community nutrition, diet, fatty liver disease, Health Nutrition Blog, healthy lifestyle, kids' health, Liver disease diet, Marie Dufour RD, NAFLD, non alcoholic liver disease, nutrition, obesity, teenage liver disease, weight control, women's Health

 By Marie Dufour, RD - Non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a disease with various stages, from fatty liver (steatosis), to non alcoholic steatohepatitis (inflamed and scarred liver), to irreversible cirrhosis and final liver failure.

This kind of fatty liver disease is different from the alcoholic liver disease and is caused mainly by obesity. In fact, all of the stages correlate to insulin resistance and obesity. The greater the BMI, the greater the liver damage. Almost 30 million Americans have non alcoholic fatty liver disease. While this used to be a disease found typically in adults, the rise in childhood overweight is now making NAFLD an alarming pediatric problem, especially among overweight adolescent boys.

In a data analysis of adolescents and teenagers, the risk for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was not only associated with obesity, but also was 16 times greater in subjects with the metabolic syndrome. However, researchers found that the metabolic syndrome affected boys more than girls, increasing boys’ risk 20-fold while girls had about a threefold increased risk. They also found a wide difference in risk according to ethnicity: Hispanics showed a five-fold increased risk, while non-Hispanics showed a 34-fold increased risk. This implies that, in addition to obesity and metabolic syndrome, NAFLD is affected by environmental, biological, or genetic factors.

Why does it matter? NAFLD, if not stopped early, will progress into nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), causing further irreversible liver scarring, up to irreversible cirrhosis. While it was conceivable for an adult to develop NAFLD in mid-life and slowly develop into cirrhosis in late years, say 70 to 80 years old, it is a shock to have teenagers develop the disease. What is the life expectancy of children so affected? What quality of life will they have? What will be the cost to their families and to society?

Fortunately, they are ways to ENTIRELY PREVENT the disease and its progression. For teenagers, it is more than ever crucial to:

1 – lose excess weight

2 – be physically active

3 – control high blood pressure

4 – maintain a healthy weight

5 – follow a plant-based diet with lean animal protein (egg whites, skim milk, fish & poultry), avoid saturated fats, and limit sweet drinks and refined sugars.

Ref: Graham RC, et al “Ethnic and sex differences in the association between metabolic syndrome and suspected nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in a nationally representative sample of U.S. adolescents” J Pediatr Gastroenterol Nutr 2009.

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