500,000 kids in Britain risk liver disease

July 4th, 2011 - 10:12 pm ICT by IANS  

London, July 4 (IANS) Over half a million overweight children in Britain are at risk of being affected by liver disease, a government expert has warned.

According to Martin Lombard, national clinical director for liver at the Department of Health, a culture of overeating is putting the lives of over 500,000 young people at risk.

Though alcohol majorly contributes to liver damage, many people remain unaware of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, linked to being overweight. It occurs when fat builds up in the liver, which can cause inflammation and swelling. Among some people, this progresses to a life-threatening condition called cirrhosis of the liver.

Presently, a quarter of children aged four and five are overweight or obese in Britain, Daily Mail reported.

“Liver disease”, says Lombard, “is a silent killer, which is putting the lives of thousands of our children at risk.”

“We know that with childhood obesity on the rise we can expect more children to be at risk of fatty liver disease in the near future.

Statistics suggest about 500,000 children aged four to 14 could be at risk of the disease, including 60,000 10-year-olds. This will only rise as obesity grows, with experts predicting that by 2050, 63 percent of children will be obese.

Alcohol can increase the risks from liver disease, even if the original condition was caused by fat rather than alcohol.

About one in five adults in Britain is already thought to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Obesity is also linked to increased risk of heart disease, some cancers and type 2 diabetes.

“Children’s livers are being cultivated for disease by a poor diet and lack of exercise,” says Sarah Matthews of the British Liver Trust.

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