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Obesity Associated with Fatty Liver Disease
Obesity is a serious condition and is associated with many illnesses such as heart disease, cancer and diabetes. In fact, obesity increases the risk of dying prematurely from all causes. It's estimated that 80% of Americans are overweight and the numbers continue to climb.
The obesity epidemic has triggered a sharp increase in the prevalence of a disease known as "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease" (NAFLD). This illness "has more than doubled in teenagers and adolescents, and climbed at a similar rate in adults with about 10 percent of children and at least 20 percent of adults in the United States."
Our livers are incredible organs! According to Dustin Rudolph Pharm.D., our livers support over 500 functions! This is why optimal liver function is so very critical. Dr. John McDougall says that fatty liver disease is caused by an unhealthy diet and is seen mainly in people with metabolic syndrome. This condition is characterized by abdominal obesity, hypertension, and elevated blood sugars, cholesterol and triglycerides. Likewise, overeating and a diet high in fat contribute to an accumulation of fat in the liver causing inflammation and swelling. "About 75% of people with this condition are women, and between 70% and 100% are obese." This illness can usually be discovered during routine blood tests when one or more liver enzymes are elevated. Although many patients experience fatigue and/or upper abdominal discomfort, others experience no symptoms at all. Liver enlargement can sometimes be detected during a physical examination.
Many years ago, NAFLD was very rare, yet due to the dramatic rise in obesity rates, the most severe cases of NAFLD can progress to liver failure, and has become the "fastest rising cause of liver transplants."
Fatty liver disease is "equivalent to foie gras," said Dr. Joel E. Lavine, the chief of pediatric gastroenterology, hepatology and nutrition at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. "You have to force feed ducks to get fatty liver, but people seem to be able to develop it on their own."
There is no "quick-fix pill" that can be taken to resolve this condition; however, a plant-based diet offers the greatest protection against metabolic syndrome and obesity - two risk factors associated with its development. Weight reduction, exercise, and consuming a health-supporting diet are our best tools in preventing and reversing NAFLD.
For more information, click on the following links:
(7) Calorie Density Infographic (Julieanna Heaver)
(9) Calorie Density Infographic (Jeff Novick)