Extra weight hard on person's liver - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Extra weight hard on person's liver

There's a frightening new finding about overweight children and teenagers.

A significant number of them may need liver transplants later in life.
 
Kevin Linch knows he's at risk for fatty liver disease which has already taken a devastating toll on his family.

"About eight years ago, my brother was diagnosed with cirrhosis of the liver, and about a year and a half later, he passed away," said Linch.

Kevin and his brother were both overweight as children.

"You were just known as the husky kid," Linch said.

Doctors now know that in the worst cases being overweight as a child may lead to a liver transplant later in life.

"I had a 20 year-old who had already had major complications from his cirrhosis and it was purely from his being morbidly obese," said gastroenterologist Dr. Natalie Murray.

The numbers are alarming.

The American Liver Foundation estimates as many as five percent of all American children over the age of five have fatty liver disease.

Some experts fear the number is as high as ten percent.

Diet and exercise are the first lines of defense.

"Keeping their portions reasonable, getting them involved in physical activities," Murray said.
 
After his brother's death, Kevin took action to reduce his own risk.

"Lost a considerable amount of weight," Linch said.

"His numbers went back to normal," Murray said.

Kevin is relieved, because he has no intention of planning a liver transplant. 
 
Experts predict that fatty liver disease will be the top cause of liver transplants by the year 20-20.

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