Childhood obesity: A growing concern

From Nature Outlook, 22 November 2017:

When a condition commonly associated with a lifetime of alcohol abuse — severe scarring of the liver, or cirrhosis — starts to show up in children as young as eight, something is very wrong.

“I had a teenage patient, who wasn’t even being evaluated for liver disease but was getting surgery for weight loss, and was incidentally found to have cirrhosis,” says Jennifer Woo Baidal, a paediatric gastroenterologist at Columbia University Medical Center in New York.

Imagine a person with cirrhosis of the liver. Chances are that the image conjured will be of an adult who drinks too much or someone who is infected with a hepatitis virus. But the obesity epidemic is changing that perception.

Paediatricians worldwide are seeing an increasing number of children and adolescents — the majority of whom are overweight or obese — with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), as well as its more serious sequela non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), in which the liver becomes inflamed. More alarmingly, some young people are presenting with signs of scarring on the liver — known as fibrosis — and in others, the condition has progressed to the irreversible cirrhosis. Read more.

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