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Liver Disease In Children Linked To Fructose Intake, Says New Study

14 February 2017, 12:00 pm EST By Sumit Passary Tech Times
Liver ailments in children and adolescents may be linked to consumption of fructose, according to researchers. Sugar intake and uric acid levels are independently responsible for the occurrence of liver diseases.  ( Kevin C. Cox | Getty Images )

High fructose intake in kids and adolescents may be responsible for liver ailments according to a new study.

According to the study, consumption of fructose in the diet may intensify the concentration of serum uric acid. Fructose consumption and uric acid concentration may also spike in people who have a non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

Sugar Intake And Uric Acid Lead To Liver Diseases?

The latest study suggests that both the intake of sugar and uric acid are responsible for the occurrence of liver diseases.

NAFLD occurs when excess fat accumulates in the liver cells of individuals who drink no or little alcohol. NAFLD is considered to be one of the primary factors for liver diseases in not only developing but also, Western countries.

The researchers estimate that nearly 30 percent of the general population in Western countries is impacted.

Moreover, nearly 9.6 percent kids and 38 percent children who are obese are affected by a wide variety of liver ailments, which includes non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

NASH is essentially a not-so-aggressive form of NAFLD. However, it can lead to cirrhosis of liver and fibrosis. It can also lead to hepatocellular carcinoma in grownups.

How Was The Study Conducted?

For the purpose of the study, researchers in Italy and UK observed 271 children, as well as adolescents who already had a liver biopsy. The patients were quizzed on the type of food they consumed during breakfast, lunch, and dinner, as well as during morning and afternoon snack times.

The frequency of the consumption was also noted along with portion sizes of the meals. The subjects had an average age of 12.5 years and 155 of them were male.

The researchers learned that the primary source of fructose in the diet of kids and adolescents alike was sweetened beverages and soda.

Nearly 90 percent were drinking soft drinks and sodas more than once a week. Moreover, nearly 95 percent of the subjects were eating pizza, biscuits, yogurt, crackers, and salty foods as afternoon and morning snacks.

The study highlighted that 37.6 percent of the subjects suffered from NASH, whereas 47.6 percent had both NASH and high levels of uric acid. By comparison, 29.7 percent of the subjects did not have NASH but suffered from high uric acid levels.

The study inferred that consumption of fructose was associated independently with high levels of uric acid, which transpired in NASH patients more often when compared to non-NASH ones.

"In this study, we show for the first time that uric acid concentrations and dietary fructose consumption are independently and positively associated with NASH. The development of NASH may markedly affect life expectancy and quality of life in affected individual," notes the researchers.

NASH development hampers the quality as well as the life expectancy of an individual per researchers. The risk factors should be understood for children having NASH and adequate measures to counter them should be taken.

The study has been published in the Journal of Hepatology.

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