What Is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver On The Rise Among Young Adults? How To Check It?

Food tech platforms Zomato and Swiggy typically clock over 1.5 million orders a day in India. Only the medical fraternity can decode the adverse effects of this frenetic pace of ordering food online in the country. Easy access to out-of-the-box food, lack of exercise and sedentary living are leading to an increasing number of young adults and children developing ‘non-alcoholic fatty liver.’

According to Delhi-based Radiologist Dr Dilraj Gandhi, he sees at least three new patients having ‘non-alcoholic fatty liver’ every day. And all of them are young adults. Doctors unanimously place the blame on their lifestyles. Most of them come with non-specific symptoms like nausea, vomiting, loss of appetite and weakness.

“A rise in the cases has been observed post the Covid-19 pandemic. The reason has been our sedentary lifestyle. At the time of recording the history of patients, a singular trait we notice is a heavy dependence on junk food with no exercise,” Dr Harshad Joshi, gastroenterologist and inflammatory bowel disease specialist at Mumbai’s Masina Hospital, who recently treated a 22-year-old from Byculla, for non-alcoholic fatty liver was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a highly prevalent liver disease that affects 34 per cent of children with obesity, according to a study published on pubmed.govMedical News Today stated that NAFLD is the most common liver disease among children in the United States, and the number seems to be rising worldwide. Besides liver-related morbidity, NAFLD also increases the risk of cardiometabolic diseases in adulthood.

“Fatty liver disease occurs when there’s too much fat accumulates in the liver,” Dr Shailesh Sable, consultant, liver transplant and HPB surgeon, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai, told IndianExpress.comHe further added: “Fat triggers inflammation (leading to injury of liver or hepatocytes) and results into healing by fibrosis (scarring) and ultimately end-stage liver disease called cirrhosis.”

Dr Shankar Zanwar, gastroenterologist, Wockhardt Hospital-Mumbai Central, told HT that most of fatty liver cases are being picked up in health check-ups. “At present, 20 per cent of the health check-ups throw up instances of fatty liver and since liver ailments have silent symptoms, some severe cases progress to advance liver disease as cirrhosis,” he said. He underlined that maintaining a healthy body weight and exercising regularly are the best ways to keep the liver fit.

“Weight loss is the only treatment. By losing three to five per cent weight, you lose fat. Five to seven per cent weight loss leads to reduction in inflammation while with more than ten per cent weight loss,” Dr Chetan Kalal, programme director of hepatology and transplant medicine, Nanavati Max Super Speciality Hospital was quoted as saying by HT.

Since NAFLD is a lifestyle disease,  there are no pills to cure it. Doctors advise avoiding sugary beverages, including juices and glucose drinks, and a balanced diet, which basically means home-cooked added with physical activity.

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