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Can Children Have Fatty Liver Disease?

Parents today have likely not missed the headlines that childhood obesity and type 2 diabetes are on the rise but there is a quieter health hazard on rise in tandem with these two epidemics.  Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD.

Fatty liver disease, previously associated with adult alcoholism, is a diagnosis being given to an increasing number of children today. Though in the case of children, it is called Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease. Regardless of name though, the damage being done to the liver is equivalent to that of alcohol. The difference for children is the causation. 

The substance believed to be driving the increase in NAFLD happens to be one of the same substances linked to the two previously named epidemics (obesity and type 2 diabetes). Sugar. Or to be more concise fructose, which includes, though not limited too, high fructose corn syrup (HFCS).  Clinical evidence strongly links the intake of sugar and, more specifically, sugary sweetened beverages with NAFLD.  Yet another reason, though it was hardly needed, to avoid sugar laden foods and beverages. To better understand how our bodies interact with sugar and the mechanisms that cause these correlations to insulin-resistance, fat accumulation and liver damage we recommend this short reading from Harvard Health Publishing

The good news is that with early detection the damage is reversible and the treatment plan consists solely of lifestyle changes. Those changes tend to include dietary changes, increased activity and weight loss. However, in the wise words of Benjamin Franklin “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure”. Preventing these diseases is not only possible it significantly outweighs the hardship of trying to turn the ship around. 

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