Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a byproduct of obesity and a poor diet. NAFLD is growing increasingly more common in adults and unfortunately, in children as well. In adults, the condition is often associated with Type 2 diabetes and insulin resistance, but there has not been adequate evidence to confirm the link in children.
A recent study, published in the Journal of American Medical Association Pediatrics, looked at 675 children with NAFLD to see if the diabetes link exists in pediatrics as well. Of the 675 children, almost 30 percent also had type 2 diabetes or were pre-diabetic; girls were at greater risk than boys. Most disturbing was the conclusion that type 2 diabetes and prediabetes in children increased the risk of more severe liver conditions that pose long term health risks.
In the pediatric gastroenterology department of Gi Associates in Jackson, Mississippi, our doctors see NAFLD regularly in our patients. Dr. Angela Shannon believes it to be a part of a larger issue known as Metabolic Syndrome. Metabolic syndrome is a cluster of conditions that are all potentially dangerous, including: high blood pressure, high cholesterol and triglycerides, excess body fat around the waist, and elevated blood sugar levels.
The risk factor for metabolic syndrome is obesity and being overweight. Obesity in children has become an epidemic in the United States and the underlying health conditions are often undiagnosed. The long term consequences of these conditions can be heart disease, stroke, and diabetes.
As a parent, it is important to take an honest look at the children in your life - obesity is so much more than body image; it is a portal to a lifetime of potentially severe and chronic health concerns. It is time to address the problem - make an appointment with our skilled pediatric specialists to assess your child’s health.