NEWS A diet rich in fast food is bad for the liver

A diet rich in fast food is bad for the liver

A new study quantifying the liver damage of eating fast food may prompt people to eat less fast food in the new year — especially those who are obese or diabetic.

The study found that getting one-fifth or more of your total daily calories from fast food increased your risk of developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis and its complications, including liver failure and liver cancer.

Although the association was modest in the general population, fatty degeneration was “significantly” higher in obese and diabetic patients who ate fast food compared with those without obesity and diabetes, the researchers report.

“I hope this study will encourage people to seek out more nutritious, healthier food choices and provide information that clinicians can use to educate their patients, especially those with underlying metabolic risk factors, about the importance of avoiding high-fat foods information, carbohydrates and processed sugars,” lead researcher Ani Kardashian, MD, a hepatologist at USC Keck Medicine in Los Angeles, CA, told Medscape Medical News.

“At the policy level, public health efforts are needed to improve access to affordable, healthy and nutritious food choices across the United States. This is especially important as more people turn to Fast food, and food prices have also increased dramatically over the past year due to food inflation,” Kardashian added.

The study was published online January 10 in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology.

More Fast Food, Greater Steatosis

The findings are based on data from 3954 adults who participated in the 2017-2018 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) and underwent vibration-controlled transient elastography. Among these participants, data on 1- or 2-day food recall were available.

Steatosis was the primary outcome, measured using the Controlled Attenuation Parameter (CAP). Two validated cutoffs (CAP ≥ 263 dB/m and CAP ≥ 285 dB/m) were used.

Of those surveyed, 52 percent ate any fast food and 29 percent got 20 percent or more of their daily calories from fast food.

After multivariate adjustment, fast food intake of 20% or more of daily calories was significantly associated with greater steatosis, both as a continuous measure (4.6 dB/m higher in CAP score) and with respect to a CAP ≥ 263 dB/m cutoff value (ratio) ratio [OR]1.45).

“The negative effects are especially severe for people who already have diabetes and obesity,” Kardashian told reporters Medical Scene Medical News.

For example, the ORs for meeting the CAP ≥ 263 dB/m cutoff and CAP ≥ 285 dB/m cutoff were 2.3 and 2.48 for diabetes and fast food intake of 20% or more of daily calories.

The researchers said their findings were particularly “worrisome” given the overall increase in fast food consumption in the United States over the past 50 years, regardless of socioeconomic status.

dietary guidance

The finding that fast food has a greater detrimental effect on people with obesity and diabetes “underscores that it’s not just an insult, but multiple factors that contribute to overall health,” said Nancy Reau, MD, chief of the division of liver disease at Rush University Medical Center, Illinois Chicago, State.

“That’s actually good news because diet is modifiable and you can’t currently change it relative to your genes. It doesn’t mean that if you’re skinny you can eat whatever you want, but if you’re overweight , be careful what your diet does matter, even if it doesn’t lead to significant changes in weight,” said Reau, who was not connected to the study.

For people who have limited options and need to eat fast food, “most restaurants have healthy options; you just have to be smart about reading the labels, watching the calories, and ordering the healthier options,” Reau told Medical Scene Medical News.

Fast food and fatty liver “go hand in hand,” Lisa Ganjhu, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist at NYU Langone Health in New York, told reporters Medical Scene Medical News.

“I counsel and coach my patients on healthy eating and exercise, and I’ve been very successful,” said Ganjhu, who was not involved in the study.

“If my patients eat at McDonald’s regularly, I basically browse the menu with them and help them find something healthy. When patients see the benefits of reducing fat and carbohydrates, they are more inclined to continue,” says Ganjhu .

The research was funded by the University of Southern California. Kardashian, Reau and Ganjhu have not disclosed related financial relationships.

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. Published online January 10, 2023.Summary

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