How does fast food harm your liver?


  • According to the SNFGE, around 220,000 adults in France have advanced liver disease with steatosis, inflammation, and fibrosis or pre-cirrhotic cirrhosis.
  • 90% of obese people with type 2 diabetes have fatty liver disease.
  • Currently, the only way to treat liver steatosis is to improve one’s lifestyle through a balanced diet, weight loss, and the fight against a sedentary lifestyle.

For many people, fast food is one of life’s little pleasures. However, we know that diets rich in fats and carbohydrates are bad for your health. A new study, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatologyproved that it is very harmful to the liver.

If people eat one meal a day at a fast food restaurant, they may think that they are not hurting themselves.said Dr. Ani Kardashian, a haematologist in Keck Medicine at the University of Southern California and lead author of the work.However, if the food is at least a fifth of their daily calories, they are putting their liver at risk.

Fat from fast food accumulates in the liver

Scientist and colleagues analyzed recent data from the annual US nutrition survey, conducted in 2017-2018, to determine the impact of consumption of fast food (dishes, including fast food pizza) on non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. . About 4,000 adults were interviewed and followed. 52% of these people admit to being a fan of hamburgers and fries. For 29% of them, a fifth or more of their daily calories came from fast food.

Researchers have found that obese or diabetic individuals who get 20% or more of their daily calories from fast food have significantly higher levels of liver fat compared to those who eat little fast food. It is a risk factor for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

In addition, the general population also shows moderate increases in liver fat when a fifth or more of their diet consists of fast food. Which is also problematic.

“A healthy liver contains little fat, usually less than 5%, and even moderate increases in fat can lead to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease”said dr. Ani Kardashian. “The sharp increase in liver fat in obese or diabetic individuals is striking, and is likely due to the fact that these conditions lead to a greater susceptibility to fat accumulation in the liver.”

Fatty liver disease: promoting a balanced diet

Previous research has highlighted the link between fast food, obesity and diabetes. However, the hematologist claims to present one of the first studies showing the negative impact of fast food on the liver.

And this increased risk of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is concerning. This pathology, nicknamed fatty liver disease, can indeed lead to cirrhosis or organ damage. They are less likely to cause liver cancer or liver failure.

“Our findings are especially concerning because consumption of fast food has increased over the last 50 years, regardless of socioeconomic status.”added Dr. Kardashian. “We have also seen a substantial increase in fast food during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is likely related to the decline in full-service restaurants and increased levels of food insecurity. We are concerned that the number of people with fatty liver disease has increased since the time of the survey”, he warned. He hopes his work will lead healthcare professionals to pay special attention to the nutritional advice given to patients, especially overweight or diabetic patients who are at high risk of developing fatty liver disease.

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