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Are Pizza and Ice Cream Killing Teens?

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Are pizza and fast food to blame?

Some overweight teenagers have severe liver damage caused by too much body fat--and a handful have needed liver transplants, reports MSNBC. It's called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, and The American Liver Foundation estimates 2%to 5% of American children over age 5 (nearly all of them obese or overweight) have it.

The disease is most common in overweight children with belly fat and certain warning signs, such as diabetes or cholesterol or heart problems. Genetics, diet and exercise level all play a role. It is most prevalent among Hispanics, relatively rare among African-Americans and more common among boys than girls. Concerned parents can request a blood test for liver enzyme levels.

Momlogic pediatrician Dr. Cara Natterson says, "This is yet another illustration of the devastating obesity epidemic in our country. Close to 17% of American children under the age of 20 are obese. The medical consequences of obesity are far-reaching--including diabetes, heart disease, joint failure and now nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Pediatricians, public health experts, nutritionists and parents each have important jobs in the war against obesity. So many of these long-term health issues are avoidable or reversible if we fix the underlying cause."

Dr. Cara Natterson, author of Your Toddler: Head To Toe is a pediatrician and mother of 2. To buy a copy of her book, click here. She is currently working on the forthcoming book entitled Dangerous or Safe?

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1 comments so far | Post a comment now
Anna September 9, 2008, 11:01 PM

The reason why there are less girls then boys who are fat, is because girls have more pressure with body image. My best freind in elementary school was made fun of because she was a few pounds over weight (by no means fat). She was, however, the heaviest girl in school and she was often picked on because of this. Ironically there were many boys in class who were much heavier then her; A few could be classified as obese.

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