Top world experts gather in Seville to discuss Europe’s fastest growing health epidemic now affecting 1 in 4 people.
September 26, 2019 – Seville, Spain The spread of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in Europe is a preventable epidemic. EASL Summit on Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) 2019 which will take place this week in Seville, Spain.
More than half of adults and a third of children in Europe are classified as overweight or obese, with the highest proportion coming from lower socio-economic groups where NAFLD is prevalent.
NAFLD is the accumulation of excess fat in the liver and is today the most common cause of liver disease in Western countries due to rapidly increasing levels of obesity and type 2 diabetes. It is a major European health burden causing liver cirrhosis and liver cancer, as well as a large increase in cardiovascular disease and non-liver cancers.
Lack of physical activity and excess caloric intake lead to weight gain and fat deposition, which plays an important role in the development and progression of NAFLD.
“We have reached a tipping point with obesity and NAFLD and policy makers urgently need swift action to reverse the growing epidemic. Obesity is the normal response to an abnormal environment and can only be addressed by addressing the multiple physical, social and economic obesogenic factors in society. said Philip N. Newsome, Secretary General of the European Association for the Study of Liver Diseases (EASL) and also Director of the Center for Liver and Gastrointestinal Research and Professor of Hepatology at the University of Birmingham.
There is an urgent need to improve diagnostic tools for NAFLD and EASL actively supports many of these research projects.
“In the meantime, we need to educate healthcare professionals on how to make early diagnoses and implement interventions that can prevent progression to more advanced disease. We also need to empower patients so they know what steps they can take to reduce their own risk. »
“It is clear that many of the causes of NAFLD – sedentary behavior, excessive energy intake and poor diet are avoidable. If we are to reduce the incidence of obesity and NAFLD, we need to significantly rethink the regulations surrounding the sale and marketing of sugar products,” Newsome concludes.
Sweetened beverages (SSB) are one of the largest sources of added sugars with little or no nutritional value. As a result, SSB consumption is now a leading cause of childhood and adult obesity and is associated with NAFLD and increased liver injury.
EASL has strongly supported the introduction of fiscal measures to discourage the consumption of SSB and legislation to ensure that the food industry improves the labeling and composition of processed foods.
Helena Cortez-Pinto, EASL EU policy adviser and professor at the Lisbon Faculty of Medicine:
“Across the WHO European Region children are regularly exposed to marketing promoting foods and beverages that are high in energy, saturated fat, trans fatty acids, added sugars or salt. Food and beverage advertisements, and particularly those embedded in children’s television programmes, electronic media and social media, have been shown to drive consumption of high-calorie and low-nutrient foods and beverages. EASL has argued that public health policy must include restrictions on advertising and marketing to children of SHW and industrially processed foods high in saturated fat, sugar and salt.
Researchers at the NAFLD summit will also hear about solutions including promoting better diet and physical activity. EASL’s annual International Liver Congress™, taking place in London from 15-19 April 2020, will have the theme ‘A Healthy Liver for a Healthy You’.
« Healthy eating is an important step in the right direction, but this needs to be supported by fiscal measures by governments to encourage behavioral change. »
“The Mediterranean Diet, characterized by a high intake of olive oil, nuts, fruit, vegetables and fish, and a low intake of red and processed meats and added sugars, is an effective and beneficial solution in the treatment and also in the prevention of NAFLD”, concludes Prof. Cortez-Pinto.
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European Association for the Study of the Liver
About EASL – The Home of Hepatology
Since its founding in 1966, this non-profit organization has grown to over 4,000 members from around the world, including many of the leading hepatologists in Europe and beyond. EASL is the leading liver association in Europe, having evolved into a leading European association with international influence and a proven track record in promoting research into liver disease, supporting wider education and driving change in European liver policy .