Fatty liver may raise heart disease risk in obese kids

July 1st, 2008 - 1:58 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, July 1 (IANS) Fatty liver in overweight or obese children might be a precursor of cardiovascular disease, says a new study. Researchers performed a case-controlled study of 150 overweight children with biopsy-proven non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and 150 overweight children without NAFLD.

Participants were well matched (average 12.7 years) according to their gender and severity of obesity. More than half of the children in each group were in the 99th percentile for body mass index.

Overweight children with NAFLD had significant cardiovascular risk including higher levels of fasting glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein (LDL, ‘bad’ cholesterol), triglycerides and higher systolic and diastolic BP than the control group.

Children with NAFLD also had significantly lower levels of high-density lipoprotein (HDL or ‘good’ cholesterol) than the control group.

Researchers found the distribution of the disease by race and ethnicity was also significantly different, with more Hispanic and Asian children in the fatty liver group and more white and black children in the control group.

They also found that children with the metabolic syndrome were five times more likely to have NAFLD as overweight and obese children without metabolic syndrome.

“Our results demonstrate that obese children and adolescents with a definitive diagnosis of NAFLD have a more severe cardiovascular risk profile than their age, sex and BMI-matched peers,” said Jeffrey Schwimmer, co-author of the study and associate professor of paediatrics at University of California, San Diego.

“These collective data illustrate that fat accumulation in the liver may play a more important role than obesity itself in determining the risk for ‘weight-related’ metabolic co-morbidities.

These findings have been reported in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

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