Beware! Junk food is adversely affecting your child’s liver

Hyderabad: A study conducted by AIG Hospitals in Hyderabad across five elite schools revealed a startlingly high number of children suffering from non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study, involving 1,100 children over the past six months, found that 50% to 60% had NAFLD, with some as young as eight years old.

NAFLD is characterized by excessive fat accumulation in the liver, which can progress to non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), the most severe form of the disease. Many of the affected children showed no symptoms and jaundice was not detected. The study indicated that the children’s diets, often including soda, chocolates, noodles, and biscuits, played a significant role in the development of NAFLD.

The research suggests that an entire generation of youngsters may grow up with liver disease, and a significant percentage may progress to cirrhosis in the future. Currently, approximately 30% of the population in the state is estimated to have NAFLD, with a slightly lower incidence among children in general.

The problem of NAFLD is not limited to the elite schools; the prevalence of the disease is increasing overall, with 30% of the population affected. A recent study by AIIMS, New Delhi, also highlighted the high prevalence of liver diseases, including NAFLD, in the general population, although children in government schools showed comparatively lower rates of the condition.

Factors contributing to the rise of NAFLD among schoolchildren in the city include obesity, lack of playgrounds in many schools, and an increase in motorized transport replacing walking to school. Children from affluent families were found to have higher rates of obesity and NAFLD, while government schools had lower incidence levels.

Overall, the study serves as a warning about the impact of unhealthy diets and lifestyles on the liver health of young individuals, emphasizing the need for awareness and preventive measures.

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