Keck Medicine of USC

A new research from Keck Medicine of USC revealed that fast food consumption can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. This has the potential to further progress and cause liver cirrhosis and liver failure.

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The new research of Keck Medicine of USC

Researchers from the Keck Medicine of USC carried out an important study to find the link if any between eating at fast food chains and liver disease. The reputed medical journal Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology has published this study in its current issue. This is the first study of its kind to show that fast foods can have a negative impact on the liver health of individuals especially obese people and those suffering from diabetes.

Keck Medicine of USC
Keck Medicine of USC (Source: Keck Medicine)

Hepatologist from the center, Dr Ani Kardashian is the lead author of this study. He said:

Healthy livers contain a small amount of fat, usually less than 5%, and even a moderate increase in fat can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,”

Further, he elaborated:

“The severe rise in liver fat in those with obesity or diabetes is especially striking, and probably due to the fact that these conditions cause a greater susceptibility for fat to build up in the liver.”

The study details

Ani and his research team took the recent data of the USA’s largest annual nutritional survey, the 2017–2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. They analyzed this data in detail and tried to determine how fast food affects liver health. They attempted to check if any association existed between fast food eating and liver steatosis. In this study, fast food definition was those foods that were either from a drive-through restaurant or from a restaurant with no waiter staff.

Keck Medicine of USC
Fast foods can cause fatty liver (Source: Food Navigator Asia)

There were 4000 adults in this study who had the values of their fatty liver measurement in the survey. And the eating habits of these adults were evaluated. The researchers specially looked for fast food consumption in these recruits that formed their study group.

The study findings

In this study group, 52% used to consume fast food on a regular basis. And of these, 29% had 20% of their daily calories from fast foods. And all of these had an elevation of their liver fat levels. This association was seen in both the general population and those with diabetes and obesity even after adjustment for age, gender, race, ethnicity, alcohol use and physical activity. The study revealed that even small amounts of fast food with high carbs and fats can cause liver damage. Ani opined:

“Our findings are particularly alarming as fast-food consumption has gone up in the last 50 years, regardless of socioeconomic status,”

Keck Medicine of USC
Fatty liver (Source: Healthline)

“We’ve also seen a substantial surge in fast-food dining during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is probably related to the decline in full-service restaurant dining and rising rates of food insecurity. We worry that the number of those with fatty livers has gone up even more since the time of the survey.”

Also, read 8 liver-protective foods!

The team hopes that physicians give nutrition advice to people about this and see to it that they do not consume more fast food. This is especially for those with diabetes and obesity. A fatty liver can improve only with diet change.