The first place to start is by switching to foods and drinks with no added sugars
Q: I’ve had non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) for about a year, but this is shocking: My 12-year-old son and my 19-year-old son both were recently diagnosed with it! How common is NAFLD, why does it develop, is it common for teens to have it, and are there simple things I can do, nutritionally speaking, to improve this condition?
—Fidela G., Los Angeles
A: Many people who hear the term Many fatty liver disease automatically think the condition only develops in people who drink too much alcohol. But non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is spreading rapidly and is now the most common chronic liver disease in both children and adults in the United States.
NAFLD is a condition in which excess fat is stored in your liver. Added dietary sugar, particularly fructose, is implicated in contributing to the development of NAFLD, and avoiding added sugar is the main dietary strategy for treating the condition. A recent study found that overweight children with NAFLD sharply reduced the amount of fat and inflammation in their livers by cutting soft drinks, fruit juices, and foods with added sugars. Eating more vegetables and fruits and as many organic foods as possible are other beneficial strategies.
The Skinny on Fatty Liver
Between 30 and 40 percent of adults in the United States have NAFLD, according to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. Close to 10 percent of U.S. children ages 2–19 also have the condition, and it is more common in boys than girls. Research has demonstrated that NAFLD is also a growing problem among Millennials: In young adults, ages 18–35 years old, NAFLD has risen almost 2.5 times over three decades (from 9.6 percent in 1988–1994 to 24 percent in 2005–2010).
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