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Why Children Are Getting Fatty Liver Disease

Analysis by Dr. Joseph Mercola Fact Checked

why children are getting fatty liver disease

Story at-a-glance -

  • Before 2006, it was largely unknown that children were experiencing fatty liver disease; further study revealed fructose, a trigger for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), passes through breast milk
  • Globally, 25% of adults have NAFLD; up to 45% of Hispanics have it, potentially related to a genetic variant
  • An interventional study is now in clinical trials enrolling children with the genetic variant who consume high amounts of sugar to assess whether reducing fructose and sugar intake will reduce NAFLD incidence
  • The health risks of NAFLD are exacerbated by excess fructose — commonly found in sweetened beverages and most processed foods — choline deficiency, poor weight management, Type 2 diabetes and lack of exercise
  • You may support your liver health by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting medications, managing your blood pressure and improving your insulin sensitivity

Fatty liver disease is caused by excess fat in your liver. The medical term is hepatic steatosis. Your liver normally contains some fat, but when greater than 10% of the weight of the liver is fat, it's called fatty liver. There are two main types: nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and alcoholic fatty liver disease, also called alcoholic steatohepatitis.

NAFLD may be suspected if a blood test shows higher levels of liver enzymes than expected. While the disease is found more frequently in adults, researchers are finding NAFLD is a growing concern in the pediatric community, which triggered at least one intervention study weaning participants off sugar to reduce obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

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