Most people associate liver disease with alcoholism or hepatitis. In the past, that may have applied. These days, however, obesity is the primary driver of liver disease.
And it’s killing people.
Advanced fatty liver disease, which is brought on by excessive fat levels in the liver, can boost a person’s risk of dying by seven times. Obese individuals are at risk for the condition, which is caused by liver inflammation and scarring from the result of fat.
The biggest concern is that it’s a silent killer. Experts suggest that the damage is done by the time symptoms arise, and it’s big trouble. It develops over years and decades, and once it makes its presence known, there is little that can be done.
If you’ve ever eaten foie gras or pate, you can get a visual of what’s happening. To make these foods, ducks and geese are overfed carbohydrates until it’s too much for the liver to metabolise. This leads to excessive fat accumulation in the liver.
Advanced liver disease has taken over hepatitis C as the leading cause of liver scarring and transplantation. Globally, about 1 in 4 people suffer from fatty liver disease.
The condition is often associated with metabolic syndrome, a cluster of conditions linked with type-2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. High blood pressure, cholesterol, and excess body fat are the most significant risk factors.
Between 20 and 30 percent of people with liver fat go on to develop scarring, so being obese doesn’t necessarily guarantee you’ll develop advanced liver disease. But it certainly increases the risk.
There are no current treatments for the condition outside of transplants. However, clinical trials for various medical treatments are underway.
Prevention is the best method of avoidance. Losing weight is really the best approach and would involve a lifestyle change.
Lifestyle changes like more movement and a healthy diet can promote fat loss, which can aid liver function and reduce the risk of disease.