The No. 1 Liver Problem Is Now Obesity

Until recently, they would have been right.

Health officials and experts in the U.S. and Canada now agree that obesity caused by poor nutrition and lack of exercise has become a bigger threat to liver health than cirrhosis, which is generally caused by excessive drinking.

Obesity is a major contributing factor to fatty liver disease, which is a buildup of fat cells in the liver.

The liver usually metabolizes fat from the food we eat. But when we overeat, eat that’s bad for us, or don’t exercise enough, large droplets of fat start to accumulate in the liver.

As these fat droplets build up, the liver starts to produce more enzymes, which can inflame liver tissue. The inflammation can cause scarring and cirrhosis, in which the liver becomes hardened and liver function is reduced.

Figures indicate that 10-20 percent of the American population has fatty liver disease, which is also known as fatty liver syndrome.

Fatty liver disease is now the fastest growing and most common form of liver ailment in Canada, according to Gary Fagan, president of the Canadian Liver Foundation.

There are few symptoms of fatty liver disease in the early stages. So most people who have it don’t even realize it unless they have liver function tests. The liver is remarkable because it keeps functioning and doesn’t always tell someone they’re in trouble.