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   May 05

One in three Britons may have liver disease caused by over-eating

Eating too much: A third of Britons are thought to have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

Over-eating is fuelling an epidemic of a killer liver disease.

Doctors say that up to a third of Britons have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, in which the liver becomes clogged with fat – in much the same way as a goose liver is fattened for foie gras production.

Worryingly, many are only slightly overweight.

The condition can lead to serious liver problems including painful swelling and life-threatening scarring.

Experts at Newcastle University warn that although we have long associated liver damage with alcoholism, over-eating is now ‘neck and neck’ with drinking as a cause. And they predict it will soon be the main trigger of fatty liver disease.

They also warn that as people pile on the pounds at a younger age, they are being diagnosed with the condition, which is often symptomless at first, much earlier.

Rather than being in their 60s or 70s, many patients are in still their 30s or 40s.

Quentin Anstee, a liver specialist in Newcastle, said that far from being hugely obese, most of his patients are simply slightly overweight.

Despite its name, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease isn’t solely caused by eating too much fat. Instead, it is fed by over-eating in general, with some of the excess calories being stored as fat in the liver.

Sugary, fizzy drinks may be particularly harmful.

A recent commission set up by the Lancet medical journal found Britain is the only country in western Europe, except Finland, where liver disease as a whole has increased over the last 30 years.


They’ve long been a packed lunch staple – but crisp sales are on the decline as more Britons snack on nuts instead.

Sales of potato crisps have slumped 1.7 per cent in the past year, research by analysts Kantar Worldpanel found.

Nuts – seen as a healthier option – have seen sales rise by 6.6 per cent over the same period. While Britons spent a total of £923.2million on crisps, alternative savoury snacks – including nuts, tortilla chips and flavoured biscuits – had a bigger share of the market for the first time, at £947.9million.

The figures, which are for take-home purchases and do not include snacks bought on the go, show sales of nuts accounted for £403.9million.

Andy Riddle, of KP Snacks, told The Grocer magazine crisp profits have also been hit by supermarket price wars lowering the cost of multipacks.

It also revealed liver disease is Britain’s third biggest cause of early death.

The report warned that most of the one in four who are obese will have fatty liver disease. Dr Anstee puts the figure at 94 per cent and says that up to a third of the population as a whole is hit.

In most cases, it will not progress to full-blown disease. But when it does, it can be fatal.

He added that ‘all the evidence suggests’ that over-eating will soon overtake alcohol as the main cause of fatty liver disease.

Professor Roy Taylor, also of Newcastle University, told the Sunday Times: ‘People do not understand that over-eating or eating badly can damage their livers just like drinking too much.’

Although it can kill, if it is caught early the condition can be held at bay by weight loss.

Some blood pressure and diabetes drugs may also be helpful.

Dr Anstee said liver disease caused by over-eating will be the main reason for liver transplants by 2020.

The rate of liver disease has increased 400 per cent since the 1970s. Experts have warned the UK faces a ‘major and growing challenge’ as increasing numbers of Britons eat more than their livers can cope with

Source: Daily Mail

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