Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Harmful
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02 March 2011
By Kounteya Sinha
New Delhi, India
ICMR Decides To Set Up Task Force, Seeks Research Proposals By May 2
India has woken up to the serious threat of non–alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) that causes serious liver disorders like cirrhosis and cancer.
India’s primary research body has sought proposals that will study various aspects of NAFLD like clinical, epidemiological, mechanistic and what it means for public health. May 2 is the last date for receiving proposals.
ICMR estimates that between 9% and 32% of the population suffers from NAFLD. There is higher prevalence among overweight, diabetic or pre–diabetic individuals.
Pediatricians, however, say almost 17–40% of obese children in India – in the 8–20 years age group – are now being diagnosed with fatty liver.
According to Dr Anupam Sibal, pediatric gastro–enterologist in Apollo Hospital, NAFLD is a significant consequence of childhood obesity. The majority of children who have NAFLD are undiagnosed since it has received little attention to date.
Dr Sibal, medical director of Apollo Hospitals, said, "Usually, NAFLD is asymptomatic. Hence, most parents don’t know that their children are suffering from it. An ultrasound test is the easiest way of early diagnosis of NAFLD. The primary cause behind the disease is faulty lifestyle among children."
He added, "We know that obese children run a high risk of NAFLD. So pediatricians testing children for lipids, BP and insulin resistance must not forget to undertake an ultrasound of the liver. Those diagnosed with NAFLD must be immediately put on a diet regimen and exercise routine – six times a week, 30 minutes a day."
ICMR’s scientific proposal note says, NAFLD comprises liver injury in persons in the absence of intake of significant amount of alcohol, where fat deposition in the liver is a major feature and trigger for damage.
Several co–morbidities have been described, including cardiac, renal and reproductive. "It is being reported in adults and children and the rising prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome is likely to escalate the condition several folds and rapidly. The uniqueness of the Asian–Indian metabolic syndrome poses the need for a better understanding of NAFLD in our context. Effective lifestyle intervention is the cornerstone to its prevention and management, besides medical and surgical options. ICMR has identified it as a thrust area," the note explains.
Experts say fatty liver among children is a result of their faulty lifestyle such as excessive consumption of junk food and less physical exercise. For instance, more and more children prefer to stay indoors and watch TV, thanks to lack of playgrounds. The disease is more common among boys than girls.