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Charity predicts surge in liver disease after lockdown

The British Liver Trust has warned of a potential future surge in a serious form of liver disease, as a new survey reveals that four out of 10 people in the UK have gained weight during lockdown. 

According to the charity, unhealthy eating habits developed during lockdown could lead to an increase in NASH, a serious form of non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD).

This follows the release of a YouGov poll, which reveals that almost half (42%) of people think they have put on weight since 23 March, when lockdown began.

NASH affects approximately one in eight adults globally and over 3 million people across the UK. However, as the disease usually has no symptoms in the early stages the true figure is likely to be much higher.

The charity said NASH will soon be the primary reason for liver transplants in the UK.

‘The last few months has been an extremely stressful time, which has affected everyone in one way or another, from feelings of isolation to concerns about finances adding to the worry about the COVID-19 pandemic.  It is no surprise that a lot of us have been turning to food for comfort,’ said British Liver Trust chief executive, Pamela Healy.

‘Regular comfort eating can become a habit which can lead to obesity and a number of health-related issues including fatty liver disease.’

More than 90% of liver disease cases in the UK is due to three main risk factors: obesity, alcohol and viral hepatitis.

‘It is a common misconception that alcohol is the only preventable cause of liver disease however many people who don’t drink develop liver disease,’ she added.

‘This why to reduce your risk of liver damage, you should place as much importance on eating a healthy diet as reducing your alcohol intake. NASH is a serious disease that can lead to a transplant or even death so it is important that we take steps to reduce the obesity epidemic that is affecting the UK and improve early detection.

‘This is a really important time to be looking after ourselves, both mentally and physically. There are lots of other, much healthier ways, to deal with stress, like taking exercise, having a relaxing bath or learning a new hobby. Fostering healthier habits for stress management is a much better coping strategy for the long term.’

Photo Credit – ParentingUpStream (Pixabay)

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