Liver Disease in Overweight Children Linked to More Risks

July 1, 2008

Overweight children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are more likely to have metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors than overweight children without NAFLD, according to research published online June 30 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

TUESDAY, July 1 (HealthDay News) -- Overweight children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) are more likely to have metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular risk factors than overweight children without NAFLD, according to research published online June 30 in Circulation: Journal of the American Heart Association.

Jeffrey B. Schwimmer, M.D., from the University of California in San Diego, and colleagues examined the association between NAFLD and metabolic syndrome in 150 overweight children with NAFLD and 150 matched overweight children without NAFLD.

The researchers found that children with NAFLD had more characteristics of metabolic syndrome, including significantly higher fasting glucose, insulin, total cholesterol, low-density lipoprotein cholesterol, triglycerides and blood pressure, and lower high-density lipoprotein cholesterol. After adjusting for demographic factors, body mass index and hyperinsulinemia, having metabolic syndrome significantly increased the risk of having NAFLD (odds ratio 5.0).

"NAFLD in overweight and obese children is strongly associated with multiple cardiovascular risk factors," Schwimmer and colleagues conclude. "The identification of NAFLD in a child should prompt global counseling to address nutrition, physical activity, and avoidance of smoking to prevent the development of cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes."

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