We all know that pop isn’t the best drink of choice for kids and adolescence, yet the weekly consumption around these drinks continues. A new study reveals the harmful effects that pop can have kids, connecting an increased chance of fatty liver disease when it comes to soda as well as other sweetened beverages. The new research discovered that kids who drink increased amounts of fructose, which is commonly found in soda and other sweetened drinks, are likelier to develop non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), a type of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). The study came out of Italy, lead by Dr. Valerio Nobili, Bambino Gesù Hospital.
NAFLD is an illness that is caused by fat buildup in the liver, that is not due to alcohol. This buildup goes hand-in-hand with liver cell damage as well as inflammation that can result in fibrosis or scarring. NASH can also cause huge issues, including liver cancer and cirrhosis.
Medical News Today advised that additional weight is the biggest risk factor when it comes to NASH and NAFLD. As per the research team, they approximate that about 9.6% of all kids and 38% of obese kids located in West nations have some type of liver disease, and NASH is included in this stat.
According to the team, past studies have linked fructose consumption to heightened uric acid blood levels; with individuals who have NAFLD showing increased levels of both uric acid and fructose. For this research, the team had a goal to dig deeper into the independent link between the effects of fructose and uric acid had on NASH.
To achieve this, the team reviewed just over 270 obese adolescents and children who experienced a liver biopsy and had NAFLD. Those who participated filled out a food frequency survey that revealed just what foods they ate, how often they ate them, as well as size of portions.
With this information, the researchers were able to figure out the kids’ dietary fructose consumption. The numbers revealed that pop, as well as other sweetened beverages, offered a large source of fructose; close to 90% of participants stated that they drank sweetened beverages/soda a minimum of one time per week.
The team also reported that regular snacks in the morning and afternoon mainly consisted of yogurt, pizza, crackers, and other salty items; with 95% of respondents reporting around this type of consumption.
The research team revealed that just over 37% of the participants in the study had NASH, as per the liver biopsies. Of this number, 47% had increased concentrations of uric acid, versus the just over 29% of the kids who did not have NASH.
Moreover, the information gathered revealed that fructose consumption was linked independently with increased concentrations of uric acid and fructose intake was also more common among those children with NASH, versus those without.
Dr. Nobili adds that NASH could affect the quality of life and life expectancy in these individuals and it is important to understand the risk around this condition for adolescents and children. The team stressed the need around efforts to decrease the intake of sweetened beverages, as well as pop, in an effort to decrease fructose consumption.