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Weight loss reverses fatty liver disease

By Catherine Wolf, KWMU

St. Louis, MO –

Researchers at St. Louis University and the Brooke Army Medical Center in Texas have found that significant weight loss can reverse fatty liver disease. Fatty liver disease occurs when excess body fat builds up in the liver's cells.

Researchers found that patients who lost nine percent or more of their total body weight reduced the amount of fat accumulation in their livers.

Dr. Brent Tetri of the St. Louis University Liver Center says the lifestyle changes patients made may have been more important than the weight loss itself.

"In the process of losing weight people eat fewer calories and they're more active and that just changes that flux of fat from the tissues or even from the diet into the liver so that there's much less of it and liver has to deal with much less to metabolize."

Tetri says doctors are seeing more cases of fatty liver disease.

"There's a lot of folks out there with just too much fat in the liver. And the data suggests that it probably occurs in anywhere from a third to a half of all adults now. You know we have so much obesity and so many people live a sedentary lifestyle with the jobs we have and our busy schedules."

Tetri says fat buildup in the liver can lead to inflammation and, in some cases, cirrhosis.