Large Intake of Fast Food Can Harm the Liver

Hyper-alimentation of junk food and too little exercise raise liver enzymes

THURSDAY, Feb. 14 (HealthDay News) -- A high intake of fast food, combined with limited exercise, causes an increase in levels of alanine aminotransferase, an indicator of liver damage, according to a report published online Feb. 14 in Gut.

Stergios Kechagias, M.D., Ph.D., of Linkoping University in Linkoping, Sweden, and colleagues conducted a study of 12 men and six women who were slim and healthy at baseline, and who ate at least two fast-food meals a day for four weeks while restricting their daily exercise to a maximum of 5,000 steps. They were compared with matched controls who did not change their usual diet.

In the fast-food group, serum alanine aminotransferase levels rose from 22.1 U/I at baseline to an individual mean maximum of 97 U/I, and 11 subjects had alanine aminotransferase levels well in excess of reference limits, a phenomenon that became apparent in the first week of the study in most cases. The fast-food group subjects also increased in weight from 67.6 kg to 74 kg, with five subjects increasing their body weight by 15 percent. There were no such changes in the control group.

"We suggest that in the clinical evaluation of subjects with elevated alanine aminotransferase, physicians should include not only questions about alcohol intake, but also explore whether recent excessive food intake has occurred," the authors write.

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