Hospitals are seeing over twice as many children with fatty liver disease compared to 2013
A recent release of NHS statistics showing the impact of the UK’s obesity crisis has shown that the number of children being hospitalised with fatty liver disease in England has more than doubled since 2013.
NHS Digital statistics stated that 195 under-18s were admitted to hospital with the problem last year, a rise from 96 cases reported in 2013-14.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is caused by long-term excessive calorie consumption where the body has to begin storing excess energy as fat in the organs, which can damage the liver’s function.
Over time the disease increases the risk of cancers and scarring, and a transplant may be required.
The figures were released in a parliamentary question by health minister Seema Kennedy.
Bristol University experts have warned about a “liver disease time bomb” affecting one in five people in their 20s.
While the latest figures do not distinguish between children ending up in hospital with alcoholic and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, experts said they were likely to be an underestimate of the true issue.
Tam Fry, chair of the National Obesity Forum, described the admissions data for fatty liver disease as “horrific”.
“It is not known as a killer disease for nothing,” he told the Sunday Times. “The excess fat in the liver acts as a toxin, inflaming cells, and may go on to cause cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.”