People that consume little to no alcohol can still get fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a term for a range of conditions that result in too much fat stored in liver cells. One of the most serious forms of the disease is non-alcoholic steatohepatitis marked by liver inflammation that can progress to scarring and irreversible damage. At the most serious stage, steatohepatitis can progress to cirrhosis and liver failure.
In a University of Surrey study, researchers looked at two groups of men – one group with low levels of liver fat and a second group that had NAFLD. Men from each group were fed diets that were equal in calories, but one diet was low in sugar (no more than 140 calories of sugar each day) and the second diet was high in sugar (650 calories of sugar).
After 12 weeks on the high sugar diet, the men that already had NAFLD showed changes in fat metabolism that are associated with increased risk of cardiovascular disease, heart attacks and strokes.
The men that came into the study with healthy livers had increased liver fat and changes in fat metabolism so that in only 12 weeks their conditions became similar to the men with NAFLD!
How many teaspoons of sugar in 650 calories?
There are 16 calories per teaspoon of sugar, so the high sugar diet contained 40.6 teaspoons of sugar each day. You might think there is no way to consume that much sugar, but let’s take a look at how that is possible for adults and children:
Venti Carmel Frappachino (Starbucks) = 324 sugar calories (out of a total of 510 calories)
Coca-Cola, 12 ounces = 140 sugar calories (out of a total of 140 calories)
Yogurt and Fruit Parfait, Yoplait – 6.5 ounces = 120 sugar calories (out of a total of 240 calories)
Apple Juice, Members Mark – 8 ounces = 110 sugar calories (out of a total of 110 calories)
Snickers Bar = 108 calories (out of a total of 250)
Blueberry Crisp Clif Bar – one sport bar = 84 sugar calories (out of a total of 250)
Fruit roll up, Simply Fruit, one roll = 40 sugar calories (out of a total of 50)
Vanilla Ice Cream – 1 cup = 124 sugar calories (out of a total of 289 calories)
Take a sample day of eating
The list above is obviously not complete, but you can see how easy it is for a person to consume 650 calories of sugar in a single day. If you want to see what your family is consuming, take just one sample day of eating and tally the sugar calories. You might be surprised.
Drive down the risk of NAFLD by keeping sugar calories low.
Mayo Clinic, Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
Impact of liver fat on the differential partitioning of hepatic triacylglycerol into VLDL subclasses on high and low sugar diets.
University of Surrey: Healthy people are at risk of developing heart disease