A new study by Keck Medicine at USC, published in Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology, gives consumers more reason to limit their fast food intake. Research reveals that fast food consumption is associated with alcoholic fatty liver disease, a dangerous accumulation of fat in the liver.
Researchers found that obese or diabetic patients who ate 20 percent or more daily calories from fast food had less or more fat in their livers. There is a significant increase in liver fat in the general population if a fifth or more of their diet consists of fast food.
“Healthy livers contain a small amount of fat, usually less than 5 percent, and even a moderate increase in fat can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease,” said Ani Kardashian, MD, a hepatologist with Keck Medicine and lead author of the study. “People may believe they aren’t doing harm if they consume one meal a day at a fast-food restaurant,” Kardashian said. He added, “but if that one meal comprises at least one-fifth of their daily calories, they are putting their livers in danger.”
“Our findings are particularly alarming as fast-food consumption has gone up in the last 50 years, regardless of socioeconomic status,” said Kardashian, adding, “We’ve also seen a substantial surge in fast-food dining during the COVID-19 pandemic, which is probably related to the decline in full-service restaurant dining and rising rates of food insecurity. We worry that the number of those with fatty livers has gone up even more since the time of the survey.”
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