Number of obese kids treated for fatty liver disease doubles in five years

The number of obese kids treated in hospital for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease has doubled in just five years.

The condition develops when excess fat is stored in the liver and is linked to obesity and diabetes.

A total of 195 kids went to hospital with it in 2017/2018 in England, figures from NHS Digital show – up from 96 in 2013/14.

The disease can lead to serious liver damage, including life-threatening cirrhosis, if patients do not make healthy changes.

Jane DeVille-Almond of the British Obesity Society said: “This condition is reversible with lifestyle changes.

“It’s simple stuff: stop feeding our children rubbish food and fizzy drinks and get them moving more.”

Tam Fry of the National Obesity Forum said: “Fatty liver disease has always been thought of as an adult problem but now we are seeing it in considerable numbers in children.

“Worse still, there are babies being born with it because of the totally inappropriate diet of their mother during pregnancy. It’s shameful.

“The result is not only more complications, but an increase in caesarian sections because babies are so fat they can’t be delivered in the normal way.”

He said schools should teach girls the importance of being fit for pregnancy.

And he hailed a programme in Leeds, which this week became the UK’s first city to reverse its child obesity rate.

Under the scheme, launched a decade ago, staff work with pre-school children to promote healthy living.

Parenting classes encourage healthy snacking, eating as a family, and cooking nutritious meals from scratch.

There has also been a big focus on getting children active through dance.

Mr Fry said: “This programme needs to be rolled out across the country. It might not be cheap, but it will save billions of pounds for the NHS down the line.”

NHS England said: “The NHS long-term plan is playing its part [in tackling childhood obesity] but other industries must also step up to prevent harm to young people.”

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