New Study Reveals That Fast Food May Be Linked to Liver Disease

After a busy day of work, cooking for yourself seems like a chore. It’s much easier and convenient to drive to your favorite fast food restaurant—burgers, milkshakes, tacos, you have it—and pick up a meal. Of course, we know that fast food is a cheap and easy meal. But the health risks go even further than what we may think. A new study has revealed that fast food may be linked with higher risk of liver disease.

The U.S. has some of the most popular fast food chains, such as McDonald’s, Burger King, Chick-fil-A, and more. With its cheap price and accessibility, we often reach for the easy option. Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology revealed that fat from fast food can build up in our liver, eventually causing liver disease. The research states that consuming 20% or more of daily calories from fast food is linked with heightened risk of growing fatty liver disease, or steatosis.

Although it is easy to drive to the local fast food chain, it is crucial to think of all the added salt and fat that may not necessarily be healthy for the body.

By consuming too much fast food, it can lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) or nonalcoholic hepatic steatosis. This condition can eventually lead to many other health conditions, including cardiovascular disease, liver cancer, or even end-stage liver disease.

How was the study conducted?

The study included individuals over the age of 20 and accumulated data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. With approximately 4,000 participants, 29% consumed 20% or more of their daily calories from fast food. Researchers said those who consumed more than 20% of daily calories from fast food were linked with heightened steatosis. It was especially relevant to those with obesity or diabetes.

What are some limitations?

The study does have a couple of limitations, as it was an observational study. Observational study refers to a type of research where participants are observed to measure the outcomes, without specific treatments or interventions. It cannot scientifically prove that it was the fast food that generated fatty liver disease.

Researchers also did not take into consideration geographic locations, which can heavily impact one’s overall health. They mentioned that the research needs further work to measure accurately. Participants also reported their daily fast food intake themselves, which can often lead to imprecise results.

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