Liver Disease Information
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American Liver Foundation
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New York, New York 10006
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>>The American Liver Foundation salutes the Walt Disney Company for taking a leadership role in helping to reduce childhood obesity by restricting junk food ads on its child-focused media outlets and for revising meals in its theme parks to have less sodium.
Childhood obesity can lead to a number of lifeline and threatening health conditions including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. It is estimated 2 percent to 5 percent of American children older than 5, nearly all of them obese or overweight, have this condition.
“We know that children are greatly influenced by what they see in the media and this change by Disney Company is a major step in reducing the marketing message of eating food without much nutritional value,” said Newton Guerin, president and CEO of the liver foundation.
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is not well known but can cause inflammation in the liver and scaring leading to cirrhosis, a serious condition. Liver failure or liver cancer can follow, but if cirrhosis has not yet developed, fatty liver disease can be reversed through weight loss.
The disease is most common in overweight children with belly fat and certain warning signs, such as diabetes or cholesterol or heart problems. However, it's been seen in a few children of normal weight.
Genetics, diet and exercise level all play a role. It is most prevalent among Hispanics, relatively rare among blacks, and more common among boys than girls.
Like heart disease, liver disease is silent. Kids may feel fine for years. Any early symptoms, like fatigue and loss of appetite, are vague and usually eclipsed by more conspicuous problems, from diabetes to high blood pressure.
Experts say the best way to combat the problem is to intervene early, while it can still be reversed, with a medical team working with the whole family, including liver and hormone specialists, a dietitian and counselors.