The latest health warning to hit the headlines is the growing incidence of liver disease, especially in younger people. Recent estimates suggest that around half a million children are currently at risk of developing liver disease due to weight issues.
Obesity has been a known cause of diabetes and heart disease for some time and also causes a raised risk of cancer and stroke. The latest warnings concern a lesser known danger – liver disease.
Liver disease is no small problem. It is caused by excess fat in and around liver cells. This fat literally strangles the liver to the point that it can no longer operate properly and also starves the liver of fresh blood which is vital for any organ to function healthily.
A poorly functioning liver also raises the risk of heart disease and stroke. Some research has indicated that liver disease could also trigger diabetes and even cirrhosis of the liver.
The latest estimates for the health of the nation suggest that 33% of all children are now either overweight or obese, although many of these are “just” overweight. Being overweight has become so normal that parents are no longer concerned when children become overweight, many parents simply do not see it as a problem.
The long term health of a whole generation is being harmed due to widespread over consumption and reliance on junk food.
Unlike many other diseases, liver disease only becomes apparent when it reaches the more advanced stages of the disease. For years while the damage is being done there are no outward sign of a problem.
Half of all people who are obese will have a fatty liver, and of these around 25% will develop liver disease.
Inactivity, poor diet and obesity are a breeding ground for liver disease. Many children’s lives are being put at risk because of this.
A change to a healthy diet and regular exercise is the only solution for preventing liver disease.
Like diabetes and heart disease, the rates of liver disease continue to rise as obesity rates rise. It is another “silent killer” which affects so many people. Many people who die from diabetes, strokes, heart disease or over weight related diseases may also already have liver disease, and although there may be no visible symptoms the disease could well contribute to illness and reduce life expectancy.
Once again this is another warning to the people of Britain to lose weight and get fit. Leading a healthy and active lifestyle increases life expectancy, reduces heart disease, diabetes, cancer, strokes and liver disease.
High fat diets are also a big problem. Although a diet high in fat does not always make a person excessively fat, the dietary fats are often absorbed into the internal organs and increase the incidence of visceral fat, which is thought to be the most dangerous type of fat.
You can start losing weight by reading our advice on losing belly fat. The key rules to losing weight are simply to eat less, eat healthy, cut out saturated fats, consume low GI carbohydrates, lean proteins and to exercise on a regular basis. Ideally you should exercise every day of the week. Make time for exercise.
Recent research has proved that lifestyle intervention can help overweight and obese children to reduce risk of liver disease in just 6 months. Healthy diet and fitness is the best way, the only way, to prevent this disease. It is the responsibility of every parent to ensure that their children are not put at risk of developing this disease.
Lifestyle intervention for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: prospective cohort study of its efficacy and factors related to improvement. Bart G P Koot, Olga H van der Baan-Slootweg, Christine L J Tamminga-Smeulders, Tammo H Pels Rijcken, Joke C Korevaar, Wim M van Aalderen, Peter L M Jansen, Marc A Benninga. Arch Dis Child doi:10.1136/adc.2010.199760. Abstract from BMJ.com