Childhood Obesity Adversely Affects Liver Health

Results acquired from a research conducted by the Columbia University Medical Center have proposed that obesity in children can impact the condition of their livers.

 According to the study, this influence is seen in children as young as eight years old, and can develop into a potential crisis if not properly handled. Findings depicted that the development of a large waist circumference by a child’s third birthday can indicate the likelihood of future markers related to fatty liver disease by the age of eight. It should be noted that this particular disease is based in the nonalcoholic fatty liver category.

Jennifer Woo Baidal, the head author of the publication pointed out the seriousness of the matter by indicating the rising number of cases related to child obesity in the past few years. This has led to increased cases of fatty liver disease in the pediatric weight management department, as most parents are not aware of the danger overweight issues pose to their children with regard to this condition. The researcher stated that though many adults are aware of the connection between obesity and diseases such as type 2 diabetes and related metabolic complications, they are less informed about the potential of serious liver disease afflicting their children as well.

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease takes place when an excessive amount of fat collects in the liver, leading to inflammation. This reaction can cause serious liver damage, and it is estimated that around 80 million people in the United States are affected by this particular condition. This complication is the most common chronic disease connected to the liver in children, and young adolescents as well.  Unfortunately, the disease does not boast any easily recognizable symptoms and can go untraced until it is too late to make a difference. Individuals should make a point of visiting a BLS healthcare provider to ensure that they are not unknowingly allowing the complication time to manifest. Extended progression of the disease can result in the development of cirrhosis and liver cancer in some instances.

Liver Disease and Childhood Obesity

Whereas previous research activities mainly concentrated on older focus groups such as adolescents and young adults, Jennifer and her colleagues chose to turn their efforts towards children of a younger age. The researchers sort to identify any risk factors related to fatty liver disease connected to this lower age bracket. The study involved over 600 children sourced from the Project Viva in Massachusetts, and involved testing the blood levels of the ALT enzyme in the liver, which can indicate the presence of liver damage or disease.

23% of the children tested displayed high levels of the ALT enzyme by their eighth birthday, which serves as a marker for liver disease or damage. Children portraying symptoms of abdominal obesity by the age of 3, as well as those displaying enhanced obesity measures between the ages of 3 and 8 were also more likely to suffer from elevated ALT enzyme levels in their system.