Obesity epidemic and liver disease in children Eyad Altamimi

Eyad Altamimi

Obesity defined as abnormal or excessive fat accumulation in the body exhibiting health risk. It represents the most serious public health challenge facing health authorities worldwide. Children are not spared; on the contrary, childhood obesity is on the rise. Direct body fat percentage estimation is very difficult. Body Mass Index (BMI) is an acceptable marker, where the ratio of the weight to the height is measured. Although BMI can indicate a weight problem, it does not differentiate between fat or lean mass. Coupling BMI with other adiposity assessment tool in children like skinfold thickness might improve the precision of BMI. Obesity is a chronic disorder. Obese children are at increased risk of being obese adults. Obesity can adversely affect almost every organ in the body. Liver and gallbladder involvement are the main gastrointestinal diseases. Obesity represents the greatest risk factor for pediatric Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD). It is already demonstrated that a positive correlation exists between abdominal fat and NAFLD. NAFLD is the most common cause of elevated liver enzymes in children. It might progress into liver cirrhosis and even hepatocellular carcinoma. Prevention of obesity and early intervention through gradual and sustained weight loss are the main strategies to prevent such deleterious complications.