Drinking too much soda linked to fatty liver disease in kids, study says

By Rebecca Burton • Published: May 9th, 2017
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Most parents know not to let their children drink soda after a certain hour if they want to get any sleep, but here’s another reason to skip the fizzy stuff: It comes with a higher risk of liver disease.

A new study published in the Journal of Hematology found that children and teenagers who consume high amounts of fructose, the sugar most often found in soda and other sweetened beverages, have a higher risk of developing nonalcoholic steatohepatitis [STEE-ah-toe-hepatitis], a form of nonalcoholic liver diease.

This condition is caused by buildup of fat in the liver. Similar to the damage caused by alcohol, the buildup leads to inflammation, liver cell damage and cirrhosis. Previous studies have also indicated that high amounts of fructose can lead to high levels of uric acid, another indicator of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The researchers analyzed data from 271 obese children who were diagnosed with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The participants completed a food questionnaire so researchers could understand their diet and eating habits. Results showed that 90 percent of the children reported having consumed a soda or another sweetened beverage at least once a week. Also, 38 percent of the children had nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, and 47 percent of those affected participants also had high amounts of uric acid. The study’s authors said this shows that fructose consumption and uric acid concentrations are linked to the condition.

To avoid health problems down the road, parents should establish good dietary habits for their children, including keeping the consumption of fructose-laden drinks to a minimum.