The disease is the most common chronic liver condition in children and teens, although few studies have looked at the condition in children.
To that conclusion have reached the scientists from the University of Columbia, in the USA.
The long-term study of 635 children in MA found that a bigger waist size at age 3 increases the odds that a child will have a marker for liver damage and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease by age 8.
Jennifer Woo Baidal, the leading researcher of this study, explains that "given the increase in the prevalence of childhood obesity, we are seeing more and more cases of children with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in pediatric consultations but many parents know that obesity can lead to the development of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases but they are much less aware that obesity, even in young children, can trigger the onset of serious liver diseases".
Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease occurs when too much fat accumulates in the liver and triggers inflammation, causing liver damage. Don't forget that good habits are learned in from the parent, so it's your duty, as a parent, to teach your kids about healthy eating.
Jennifer and her team measured blood levels of a liver damage marker called ALT among 635 children from Project Viva, a prospective study of women and children in MA.
The results showed that by age eight, 23% of the children had elevated ALT levels.
Approximately 35 per cent of eight-year-olds with obesity had elevated ALT versus 20 per cent of those with normal weight, the researcher said.
"Some clinicians measure ALT levels in at-risk children starting at around 10 years old, but our findings underscore the importance of acting earlier in a child's life to prevent excess weight gain and subsequent liver inflammation", says Woo Baidal, who is also director of pediatric weight management and a pediatric gastroenterologist in the Center for Adolescent Bariatric Surgery at NewYork-Presbyterian Morgan Stanley Children's Hospital. "We urgently need better ways to screen, diagnose, prevent, and treat this disease starting in childhood".