Hospital admissions for adolescents with fatty liver disease double since 2013

The number of children and adolescents being treated in hospital for fatty liver disease has more than doubled since 2013, according to recent statistics from NHS Digital.

In the financial year 2013-14, 96 patients aged under 18 years were admitted to hospital with a primary diagnosis of fatty liver disease. In 2017-18, this figure more than doubled to 195 cases.

The numbers did not distinguish between cases of fatty liver disease and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), but due to the age parameters of the patients it is likely that the increase is mainly in NAFLD patients.

In an interview with the Sunday Times, Tam Fry, Chair of the National Obesity Forum, described the findings as ‘horrific’.

‘It is not known as a killer disease for nothing,’ he said. ‘The excess fat in the liver acts as a toxin, inflaming cells, and may go on to cause cirrhosis, cardiovascular disease and cancer.’

The new statistics were released in a parliamentary question by Seema Kennedy, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Health and Social Care. The authors highlight that the increases may also be a result of improved recording of diagnosis or procedure information.

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