February 18, 2018

Studies Find Weight Loss Improves Liver Condition


Alan Cleaver

Although some will have you believe otherwise, it’s generally accepted that weight impacts health. Being overweight or underweight can put pressure on your body in different ways. There are many health conditions that are easier to manage or could improve by losing weight. For example, type 2 diabetes may be easier to control once a sufferer sheds some pounds. Two studies have recently found that weight loss also improves the health of a person’s liver. And it doesn’t matter how it is achieved. Whether the patient used surgery or changed their diet and exercise, the condition of their liver improved.

The two studies were conducted on people with nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). This condition is an inflammation of the liver caused by a buildup of fat. It is one of a number of conditions called fatty liver disease. Many with an accumulation of fat around their liver experience no symptoms or ill effects. However, some have inflammation and damaged liver cells. An exact cause of NASH is not known, but it often appears in middle-aged people who are overweight or obese. Some risk factors include having type 2 diabetes or high cholesterol. It can lead to scarring of the liver, which causes cirrhosis.

The studies came from Cuba and France. They were compared by researchers at the University of Bologna in an editorial. The Cuban study looked at patients who underwent lifestyle changes. They involved exercise and a calorie-restricted diet. Meanwhile, the French study examined obese patients who had bariatric surgery. Both studies looked at the data one year after surgery or beginning lifestyle changes. The Cuban researchers found that NASH was cured, and liver scarring was reversed when at least 10 percent of weight loss was achieved. The French study found that 85 percent of people who had weight loss surgery no longer had NASH one year later.

In the study from Cuba, a weight loss of between 7 and 10 percent improved the liver health in some patients. These included men and people who did not have diabetes. However, those with a weight loss of less than 5 percent did not see improvement. In fact, liver scarring worsened in 93 percent of this group. When it comes to weight loss surgery, success rates were dependent on the severity of the disease. Those with mild NASH had a higher rate of improvement, at 94 percent. Patients with a more severe condition saw a success rate of 70 percent.

These two studies suggest that both lifestyle changes and weight loss surgery help with this fatty liver condition. However, there are a number of factors that affect the outcome. The progression of the disease and the success of the weight loss both contribute. In the lifestyle changes study, patients needed to lose more weight. This was dependent on them having the dedication to do so. However, in the others study, the disease’s progression was an important factor in the reversal of the disease.

Both studies show that weight loss can have excellent health benefits. In particular, it is beneficial for people suffering NASH.

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