Overweight and at risk

Overweight and at risk

They found obese teens and overweight young men were more likely to develop liver disease than normal weight males.

They used registered data from more than 1.2 million Swedish men enlisted for military conscription between 1969 and 1996.

This was then linked with other health registers to assess whether these men went on to develop severe liver disease.

The researchers discovered that overweight men were nearly half as likely and obese men more than twice as likely to develop liver disease in later life than men of normal weight.

Researchers led by Dr Hannes Hagström, of the Centre for Digestive Diseases at the Karolinska University Hospital in Stockholm, Sweden, set out to investigate how BMI in early adolescents impacted on liver problems later in life.

Results showed that during follow-up of more than 34 million person-years, there were 5,281 cases of severe liver disease including 251 cases of liver cancer.

The study found that men who had been overweight or obese as teenagers had a much higher risk of developing serious liver problems later on.

This will increase to 15 cases per 100,000 people.

Overall, men are 16 per cent more likely to get cancer than women.

People may underestimate how intoxicated they are, and possibly drink more or engage in risky behavior.

Therefore, even if the risk is increased in overweight and obese men who develop diabetes, the association of high BMI at an early age and severe liver disease at a later date "cannot exclusively be explained" by type 2 diabetes, the study says.

"This could have implications for public health decision making, strengthening the need of targeted intervention against overweight and obesity at an early age and specifically highlights the risk of type 2 diabetes as a risk factor for liver disease".

"Interventions to reduce the increasing prevalence of overweight and obesity should be implemented from an early age to reduce the future burden of severe liver disease on individuals and society", Hagstrom said.

Worryingly, the United Kingdom has the highest level of obesity in Western Europe, ahead of countries such as France, Germany, Spain and Sweden, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.