Junk Food Linked to Potentially Deadly Liver Disease

Junk Food Linked to Potentially Deadly Liver Disease

According to a new study from Keck Medicine of USC and published in the Clinical Gastroenterology and Hepatology journal, junk food could be the cause of a life threatening liver illness known as NAFLD (non-alcoholic fatty liver disorder.)

In other words, if you needed one more reason to eat less fast food, this is it!

Hepatologist Ani Kardashian, the lead author of the study, shared in a press release that “Our findings are particularly alarming as fast-food consumption has gone up in the last fifty years, regardless of socioeconomic status.”

The research found that the participants who ate junk food amounting to a fifth of their daily calorie consumption had particularly high levels of fat in their livers when compared to those who ate little to no junk food.

In fact, it appears that even people who eat a rather moderate amount of junk food can cause harm to the liver.

The research team looked into National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey data from 2017 to 2018 in order to figure out how much junk food can affect liver steatosis, the condition caused by too much fat building up in the liver.

Junk food was determined to be fast food from a place such as a drive-through restaurant or one with wait staff in the study, which includes pizza, burgers, hot dogs and more.

They went on to compare the fatty liver measurements of around 4,000 people to their fast food consumption and learned that no less than 52 percent of them ate fast food.

For 29 percent of them, 20 percent or more of their daily calories were junk food and they were also the only ones who experienced an increase in liver fat.

This link between fast food and liver steatosis was found for those suffering from diabetes or obesity but also for the general population even after the data was adjusted to account for different factors such as race, ethnicity, sex, age, physical activity and alcohol use.

There have been other previous studies associating fast-food and obesity before but this is the very first one to also prove its impact on liver health.

Another research points out that fat intake should be less than 30 percent of people’s daily calorie consumption and it is important to eat anti-inflammatory foods filled with mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids in order to improve NAFLD.

This includes foods such as nuts, avocadoes and fish.

The research team hopes that their results will lead to healthcare providers offering their patients extensive nutritional education from now on, especially to those who eat a lot of junk food and are at a high risk of developing NAFLD.


Katherine is just getting her start as a journalist. She attended a technical school while still in high school where she learned a variety of skills, from photography to nutrition. Her enthusiasm for both natural and human sciences is real so she particularly enjoys covering topics on medicine and the environment.

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