Hannover – On June 8, 2023, International NASH Day (IND) will take place under the leadership of the Global Liver Institute (GLI). Since June 2018, the IND has brought attention to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and its advanced stage, non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NASH). According to the GLI, the development of this disease is dramatic and, with more than 115 million NASH sufferers worldwide, can be classified as a hidden epidemic. The German Liver Foundation expressly supports the IND.
Current figures show that a health problem that existed before the corona pandemic – more and more overweight or obese (obese) adults and children in Germany – has become even greater during the course of the pandemic. Due to the restrictions during the corona pandemic, more and more children and young people in particular have become obese. According to the results of a health insurance company analysis of insured data, there were around 32,000 obese children in Lower Saxony in 2011, ten years later there were 43,000 – an increase of a good third. The figures in Bremen show an even more extreme development: the number of obese children doubled from 2,300 to 4,600.
In this development, liver experts see the great danger that the number of non-alcoholic fatty liver diseases will increase even faster than previously expected, because overweight and obesity promote the development of fatty liver.
“Overweight and obesity are already a risk factor for many secondary diseases such as NAFLD at a young age. The liver suffers from the unhealthy western lifestyle, which is often characterized by a high-calorie and often carbohydrate-rich diet combined with a lack of exercise. Other diseases are often associated with NAFLD, which are also based on the risk factors overweight and lack of exercise, such as cardiovascular diseases or diabetes mellitus – and unfortunately these diseases reinforce each other,” explains Prof. Dr. Michael P. Manns, Chairman of the Board of the German Liver Foundation, and adds: “The spectrum of NAFLD is broad: It ranges from simple non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFL) to chronic, progressive, non-alcoholic fatty liver inflammation and liver fibrosis (connective tissue proliferation). cirrhosis of the liver (scarring of the liver). In most chronic liver diseases, the risk of tumor formation is increased in the stage of liver cirrhosis: Liver cell carcinoma (hepatocellular carcinoma, HCC) can develop. However, in non-alcoholic fatty liver inflammation, hepatocellular carcinoma can occur before cirrhosis is present.”
Countermeasures must be taken to ensure that obesity and lack of exercise do not become a “fat problem” for the liver – and in the long term for society as well. There are currently no drugs against NASH, these are currently being investigated in studies, but no drug has yet been approved. The studies are pursuing different approaches: some substances reduce the inflammatory reaction, while other active substances directly influence the lipid metabolism or intervene in the liver scarring process. At the moment it is not yet entirely clear when the approval of drugs can be expected. But there is already an effective therapy: lifestyle changes through healthy eating, exercise, reducing obesity and successfully controlling diabetes. In many cases, those affected can counteract their fatty liver disease so successfully that it completely or partially regresses.
Prof. Manns explains that nutrition is a very important factor: “For those affected, healthy nutrition that is appropriate to the situation is extremely important. It can decisively improve the state of health of those affected; even contribute to healing in fatty liver disease. For this reason, the German Liver Foundation published ‘The Big Cookbook for the Liver’ last year, which can help those affected with the right diet.”
The German Liver Foundation is also involved in NAFLD research: In order to make a contribution to improving the care of those affected, the German Liver Foundation set up the “German NAFLD Register” with the support of two research groups (the “NAFLD CSG” of the university centers and initiated the “FLAG study” of the bng) and has been running it since December 2020 via the Leberstiftungs-GmbH.
German Liver Foundation
The German Liver Foundation deals with the liver, liver diseases and their treatments. It aims to improve patient care through research funding, research networking and scientific projects. With intensive public relations work, the foundation increases public awareness of liver diseases so that they can be recognized and cured earlier. The German Liver Foundation also offers information and advice on medical issues. On the website you will find extensive information and image material for those affected, interested parties, members of the specialist groups and media representatives: www.deutsche-leberstiftung.de.
NEW RELEASE: “The big cookbook for the liver” – 122 recipes with all important nutritional information; important kitchen tips and rules for a liver-healthy diet, September 2022. The book is available in bookstores: ISBN 978-3-8426-3100-7 € 28.00 [D]. Additional Information:
BOOK TIP: Now in the fourth, updated and expanded edition:
“The Liver Book” provides comprehensive and generally understandable information about the liver, liver diseases, their diagnoses and therapies. It is available in bookstores: ISBN 978-3-8426-3043-7, €19.99 [D].
Review copies can be requested from firstname.lastname@example.org.