Obesity predicts liver disease development in children by age of 8, according to a new study. It’s a first study to show that being overweight affects liver health in children as young as 8 years old.
The study claims that obesity at age 3 raises the probability that by age 8, children will have the pediatric nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
“With the rise in childhood obesity, we are seeing more kids with the nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in our pediatric weight management practice,” said Jennifer Woo Baidal, MD, MPH, assistant professor of pediatrics at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons and lead author of the paper.
Jennifer also said that we already know that obesity can cause type 2 diabetes and other metabolic conditions but there is far less awareness about the fact that obesity, even in children, can cause severe liver disease.
In the current study, the researchers examined levels of a liver enzyme called ALT— ALT is released into the blood when the liver is damaged. They followed 635 children from Project Viva and found that 23% of children in the study had elevated ALT levels by age 8. Children with obesity between ages 3 and 8 were more likely to have elevated ALT. the study which says Obesity predicts liver disease development in children by age of 8 published today in the Journal of Pediatrics.
“Currently, the best way for kids and adults to combat fatty liver disease is to lose weight, by eating fewer processed foods and getting regular exercise. We urgently need better ways to screen, diagnose, prevent, and treat this disease starting in childhood,” suggests says Woo Baidal, a director of pediatric weight management and a pediatric gastroenterologist in the Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital.