Long hours in front of television, video games replacing sports in the park and junk food has exposed one in six children to fatty liver disease, according to doctors.

The condition — a condition in which liver gains 5-10 per cent more fat than the weight of the organ — was used to be prevalent among adults but now children are increasingly falling to the disease.

Not only excessive consumption of alcohol but obesity, sedentary lifestyle, and eating junk food are major causes of fatty liver disease.

Fatty Liver Disease is of two types – Alcoholic and Non-Alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

While the former is caused due to the excessive consumption of alcohol, the latter is caused because of obesity, consumption of excessive junk food and lack of exercise.

Office routine and hectic work timings have pushed 25-year-old Manas (who goes by his first name) to overlook his health. He shifted to Delhi five months back and since then his lifestyle has completely changed. No home cooked-food, wrong dietary habits and lack of exercises led to trouble in his liver.

“Due to my work schedule, I hardly performed any physical exercise and I used to order food from outside daily,” said Manas, a resident of Rohini.

“We found fatty liver during the investigation but there was no history of alcohol or smoking. The reports suggested that his food habits were quite bad,” said Dr Rajesh Upadhyay, senior consultant, gastroenterology, Max super-speciality hospital, Shalimar Bagh.

After one month, when Manas visited the doctor again for his reports, the healthier lifestyle adopted by him had begun to show results.
“Every morning I go for a 15-minute brisk walk and started cooking at home,” said Manas.

Change your lifestyle
Doctors say, a healthy lifestyle is a sure way of preventing fatty liver. Also, people with a history of diabetes, thyroid, high cholesterol and obesity are more likely to have fatty liver.

“If one is suffering with fatty liver disease at an early age, there are chances that ten years down the line, he/she might suffer from diabetes, heart disease and blood pressure,” said Dr SK Sarin, director, Institute of Liver and Biliary Sciences.

After effects
NAFLD may lead to serious complications if associated with inflammation and fibrosis. It can eventually lead to damage of liver tissue called liver cirrhosis and cause liver cancer in some cases.

“The kind of lifestyle people have now is also alarming. By and large, this disease has become a manufacturing defect. In last one decade, FLD has become popular among people and the number is going to increase,” said Dr Govind Makharia, additional professor, gastroenterology, AIIMS.

Lose those extra kilos
Nowadays, not only youngsters but children are also becoming prone to this disease. People who do not have any family history of obesity or diabetes should remain healthy and avoid gaining weight.

Having food rich in proteins and less in carbohydrate and fats is advisable. If the disease is diagnosed at an early stage then adopting a healthy lifestyle is the solution, but if it reaches grade 3 then it requires medication.

Take our quiz if you think you have a liver disease

How is fatty liver disease diagnosed?
One may have to go through routine blood test, ultrasound and may be for CT Scan and MRI in few cases. Liver Biopsy will help in detecting the actual cause of the disease.

Who all are at risk of the disease?
A-Excessive consumption of alcohol, patients with a history of diabetes, cholesterol, metabolic syndrome and suffering with malnutrition are more prone to the disease.

If anyone has FLD, what are the chances of having heart disease?
A-The chances are quite high. If a person is suffering from FLD at an age of 30, he/she might have a risk of falling prey to heart disease.