Nonalcoholic liver disease is a predominately dormant issue for thirty to forty percent of Americans. However, this issue is presenting itself in obese children. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) possesses more than meets the eye—it’s a term used to cover multiple issues, all hiding within the same rare symptoms.

A trial consisting of 635 obese children, conducted by leading pediatricians and premiering in The Journal of Pediatrics, indicates a substantial rise in early and mid-childhood adiposity and waist circumferences comes with additional issues that the body is known to have at increased weight levels.

This study included testing of alanine aminotransferase (ALT) levels. This enzyme is primarily located in the liver and kidney, and increases in volume with accruing damage. At mid-childhood, 23 percent of the study’s subjects saw an elevation in their ALT count.

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The Study Design

The researchers analyzed the waist circumferences and ALT blood levels of a group of people of varying ethnicities and genders. Forty-eight percent of the subjects were female; 52 percent were male. Fifty-eight percent of the study subjects were white, 21 percent black, six percent Hispanic/Latino, and three percent Asian.

Males and females contain different average levels of ALT; the investigators derived sex-specific figures to determine differences found in each gender. The study concluded that larger waist circumferences were directly related to increased ALT levels.

What Is Nonalcoholic Liver Disease?

It begins as inflammation of the liver, developing into the accelerated damage that significantly surpasses the normal “wear and tear” of time. Enzymes production in the liver (and kidney) mimics the effects of heavy alcohol consumption. Detecting this disease isn’t simple; it involves in-depth scans of the body, as well as blood tests to confirm the cause.

In America, it experts estimate that between 80 and one-hundred million citizens suffer from varying degrees of nonalcoholic liver disease. Risk factors include an underactive thyroid, metabolic syndrome, high cholesterol, and more severe issues. What’s unique about children developing this disease is that it primarily manifests itself in the forty to fifty-year-old age range, as a result of a decreasing metabolism.

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Diet Plays a Role

We’re all aware of what we eat, even those dietary components that aren’t necessarily good for us. Processed meats are a part of most Americans’ everyday life. It’s not just about fast food—processed meats are virtually everywhere you look. Even purchasing a roast or steak from the supermarket is going to come with some form of processing to it.

Processed and “well-done” meats are directly related to an increased risk of NAFLD, chronic liver disease, diabetes, and insulin resistance. Additional complications and risk factors may include swelling of the veins in your esophagus, drowsiness, slurred speech, and eventual liver cancer.