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Overweight Teens at Risk for Liver Disease

Overweight Teens at Risk for Liver Disease

Dontari Poe, the Atlanta Falcons nose tackle and two-time Pro Bowler, came into the NFL Combine at 346 pounds—and could run the 40-yard dash in 4.98 seconds! A super-big, super-fast lineman makes for a great player, but according to research, packing on extra pounds is not so great for a young man’s liver down the line—even Dontari’s. 

We know when teenagers are overweight they’re looking at an increased risk for type 2 diabetes and heart disease later in life. And research shows over-poundage also increases the risk of serious liver problems as an adult.

For the study, published in Gut, researchers analyzed health records of 1.2 million Swedish men from the time they were young adolescents through adulthood. They found that the higher a boy’s BMI in the later teenage years, the higher his chances of developing severe liver disease and even liver cancer. And the risk of liver problems is even greater for young men with type 2 diabetes.

If your child is overweight or already has type 2 diabetes, you need to act now to help assure a healthy, productive future for him or her. That means changing the way your family shops for, prepares and eats food. Get the kids involved—and get creative! Initiate smaller meals and a family activity plan that includes after-meal walks and weekend adventures to local parks. Then work with your doctor to monitor your child’s liver health (a simple blood test will do it) and you’ll catch any problems before they develop.

Medically reviewed in February 2020.

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