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Fast food diet gives sharp increase of liver enzymes

A diet of hamburgers and other fast food can seriously affect liver status, according to a study conducted jointly by LiU internists and radiologists. In the long term, a fast food diet would increase the risk of type 2 diabetes and chronic liver disease.

The study was led by professor Fredrik H. Nyström at the University Hospital and was recently reported in the on-line medical journal Gut.

An intervention group of healthy subjects, 12 men and 6 women, with an average age of 26, kept a daily diet of two fast food meals over a two-week period. They did not exercise. They retained their normal alcohol consumption. This group was matched against a parallel control group who kept a normal diet.

The intervention subjects increased their caloric intake by around 70 percent. All but one gained between 5 and 15 percent. Most of the gain settled around the waist. One male participant shot up from 80 to 92 kilos in the first two weeks.

Blood tests of the fast food eaters showed sharp increases in the liver enzyme alanine aminotransferase (ALT). ALT levels more than quadrupled during the 4-week study period and 13 of the 18 subjects developed morbidly high status of ALT in their blood serum. One male had such extreme values after three weeks that he was withdrawn from the experiment and put on a normal diet. None of the subjects developed signs of chronic liver disorder.

The conclusions drawn from this experiment is that medical personnel should ask patients with high ALT levels about both their diet and alcohol consumption. High ALT levels are correlated to a risk of type 2 diabetes, liver and cardiovascular disease.

The article, "Fast food based hyper-alimentation can induce rapid and profound elevation of serum alanine aminotransferase in healthy subjects" is coauthored by Stergios Kechagias, Åsa Ernersson, Olof Dahlqvist, Peter Lundberg, Torbjörn Lindström, and Fredrik H. Nyström. It appeared at Gut online on February 14, 2008.


Page manager: therese.winder@liu.se
Last updated: 2009-06-03