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Liver Disease in Obese Children

It’s normal for the liver to contain some fat, but if more than 5% - 10% percent of the liver’s weight is fat, then it is called a fatty liver (steatosis). Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) occurs in every age group but especially in people in their 40s and 50s who are at high risk of heart disease because of such risk factors as obesity and type 2 diabetes. NAFLD is the most common form of liver disease in children and the incidence has more than doubled in the last 20 years, often due to obesity. According to a recent study of 635 children in Massachusetts, a bigger waist size at age 3 increases the odds that a child will have a marker for liver damage and NAFLD by age 8. While NAFLD typically does not cause symptoms, it can lead to scarring (cirrhosis) of the liver and cancer. Encourage healthy eating habits and exercise starting with toddlers, to prevent this devastating disease.


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