LOS ANGELES (KABC) — Too much alcohol can cause liver disease, and now a unique study suggests fast food may have a direct impact on your liver health, too.
About 30% of people in the United States have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Many don’t know they have it. Who wouldn’t be lining up for a sweet, gooey egg puff pancake?
But these days, queuing for food is more the norm than an occasional treat.
“I had Taco Bell yesterday. Panda Express the day before. Pizza Hut the day before,” said Kamry Morris of Los Angeles.
Eagle Rock’s Alexa Crisostomo said she goes through fast-food drive-thrus maybe three times a week.
Daniela Espiritu, from Irvine, said she gets fast food twice a week.
“If you’re walking yourself every few days, that’s probably still too much,” said the study’s lead author and hepatologist, Dr. Ani Kardashian of USC’s Keck Medicine.
She said fast food consumption has skyrocketed during the pandemic.
“Fast food includes food from any drive-thru or restaurant that doesn’t have servers,” she said.
When convenience foods make up 20% of your diet, Kardashian’s results show how it increases your risk of fatty liver.
“Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is another cause of serious liver problems, including cirrhosis, or scarring of the liver, liver failure, and one of the most feared complications of cirrhosis, liver cancer,” Kardashian said.
The risk was significantly higher for those dealing with obesity and diabetes. Researchers analyzed data from a national survey — 29% said a fifth of their calories came from fast food, and the same 29% were those who had higher liver fat percentage.
People with busy schedules say convenience “drives” them to fast food.
“If I can drive somewhere and get my food, instead of spending an hour cooking, I’ll drive to get my food,” Morris said.
Kardashian said packing lean proteins, whole grains, fruits and vegetables from home can be more convenient than a drive-in.
“If you change your diet. If you eat healthier. When you eat a Mediterranean diet, you lose weight. We know you can actually reverse and reduce the amount of fat in the liver,” she said.
“I know the cost of groceries is high, but we can do it. Nothing is impossible,” said Espiritu.
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