Obesity is becoming a critical problem among teenagers in Australia, and is becoming the primary cause for severe liver damage that is usually seen in alcoholics, according to researchers.
Fatty liver disease, which, in the past, only seemed to affect older people who were obese, had a problem with drinking or have hepatitis is now posing a huge threat to obese teenagers. About 13 per cent of the 1170 seventeen-year-olds studied, have the disease.
Dr Oyekoya Ayonrinde, who led the study, states that alcoholism also contributes to the threat and that the long-term complications cannot be ascertained at this stage as the study involved first-generation teenagers with the problem of obesity. But, it is a fact that when fat builds up to make more than 10 per cent of the liver's weight, it can lead to inflammation and scarring, and when cirrhosis of the liver happens, it can prove to be fatal.
Teenagers face the risk of not only metabolic disorders such as Type 2 Diabetes and heart disease, but also the threat of liver failure and liver cancer as they grow older. Jacob George, a professor of hepatic medicine at the University of Sydney says, "The number of people with the disease is so huge that if even a fraction get liver cancer it is going to be huge."
But obesity is a preventable risk factor in cancer, when there are others like genes that cannot be controlled, reminds Ian Olver, the chief executive of Cancer Council Australia.