Fast food can damage the liver

February 15, 2008 in Diabetes & Diabetes Prevention, Healthy Eating, Nutrition Topics in the News

Fast food can damage the liver

Too much fast food and too little exercise can wreak havoc on the liver, according to results of a small Swedish study.

In the study, 18 sedentary adults ate at least two fast food meals every day for four weeks.  Another similar group ate a diet with no added fast food. The researchers wanted to see what doubling the number of calories eaten daily and increasing body weight would do to the liver.

At the end of the 4 weeks, the fast food eaters had put on an average of 14 pounds. After just one week on the fast food diet, blood tests showed sharp increases in a liver enzyme called alanine aminotransferase (ALT). ALT levels more than quadrupled over the 4-week study period.

Liver enzymes like ALT are used to predict liver disease before symptoms develop. Over 60 percent of fast food eater saw ALT levels rise to levels that suggest liver damage.

Researchers believe that increased ALT levels may be due to weight gain and higher sugar and carbohydrate intake.

They also found that one fast food eater developed fatty liver, another sign of liver damage characterized by too much fat in the liever. Fatty liver is also linked to insulin resistance, a precursor to diabetes. 

None of these signs of liver damage were seen in the who maintained their normal diet with no additional fast food meals.



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