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Fatty Liver Disease Common Among Young Adults in the U.K.

Liver disease among young people tied to rise in obesity and harmful drinking patterns

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 29, 2020 (HealthDay News) — One in five young adults in the United Kingdom has steatosis and one in 40 has fibrosis around the age of 24 years, according to a study published online Jan. 15 in The Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Kushala W.M. Abeysekera, from the University of Bristol in the United Kingdom, and colleagues assessed the prevalence of steatosis and fibrosis in young adults in a sample of 3,768 participants (mean age, 24 years) recruited through the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Assessments were based on transient elastography (FibroScan) and controlled attenuation parameter (CAP) score. Assessments also evaluated serology, alcohol consumption, body mass index (BMI), waist-to-height ratio, socioeconomic status, and sex.

The researchers found that 20.7 percent of participants had suspected steatosis (≥248 dB/m), with 10 percent presenting with severe steatosis (≥280 dB/m). When adjusting for excessive alcohol consumption, social class, and smoking, BMI in the overweight or obese range was positively associated with steatosis (overweight BMI: odds ratio, 5.17; obese BMI: odds ratio, 27.27). Of the 3,600 participants with valid transient elastography results for fibrosis analysis, 2.7 percent had values equivalent to suspected fibrosis (≥7.9 kPa), and nine of these patients had values equivalent to F4 fibrosis (≥11.7 kPa). There was an increased risk for fibrosis among individuals with alcohol use disorder and steatosis when adjusting for smoking and social class (odds ratio, 4.02).

“A holistic approach to the U.K. obesity epidemic and excessive drinking patterns is required to prevent an increasing health-care burden of adults with advanced liver disease in later life,” the authors write.

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