Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise in Canada, especially among children

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is on the rise in Canada, especially among children

It’s an organ that often doesn’t get a lot of attention.

While it is brought up in connection with alcohol consumption, the most common liver disease now is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

About 25 per cent of Canadians, with one in five being children, are being diagnosed with NAFLD, according to the Canadian Liver Foundation.

Currently, Canadian schools do not teach liver health in the health curriculum and the Canadian Liver Foundation would like that to change.

The organization has launched a petition calling on education ministers to include liver health in school curricula.

Mohit Arora is a liver transplant recipient. He received his new liver 30 years ago after he was born with a rare disease called biliary atresia.

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“Even now, to this day, there’s still not much known about its causes and there’s certainly no cure,” he told Global News Tuesday.

Arora said he spent much of his childhood on the transplant list and finally received one on his 11th birthday.

“I’ve been incredibly healthy thanks to amazing health care and just amazing research that’s gone into transplants and liver health,” he added.

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Arora said if people have a healthy liver, they have a healthy life.

“The numbers in children are continuing to increase for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease,” he added.

Arora said he would like to see children become more aware of consuming too much fat and sugar and harming their livers.

“Unfortunately, the liver does not know how to communicate and is really resilient, which is amazing,” he said. “But it only tells you that there’s a problem when it’s too late when it’s really late, so preventive is always best.”

Click to play video: 'Preventing fatty liver disease'

Preventing fatty liver disease

Jennifer Nebesky, president and CEO of the Canadian Liver Foundation, said the importance of the liver cannot be understated.

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“It is a powerhouse organ,” she said. “It performs over 500 functions, from producing and storing energy and fighting infection to balance our hormones.”

Nebesky said in only 10 years, NAFLD has increased in cases from one in 10 people to one in four.

She added being more active, and eating a well-balanced and healthy diet, especially in children, can help prevent issues with their liver and equip them to make healthier choices throughout their lives.

&copy 2023 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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