Fatty liver disease more likely for couch potatoes, people who nap often

GUANGZHOU, China — Couch potatoes and people who take long daytime naps are at a higher risk of developing fatty liver disease, warns new research. Scientists say people who struggle to get sleep at night, but doze off during the day are at the highest risk.

A late bedtime, napping for more than 30 minutes during the day and even snoring were linked to a higher risk fatty liver disease. The chronic condition can lead to serious liver damage, including cirrhosis. A modest improvement in sleep quality was found to cut people’s risk from the condition by almost a third (29 percent).

Obese people and sedentary individuals suffered from worse side effects from poor sleep quality.

For the study, researchers in China looked at self-reported sleep behaviors of more than 5,000 Chinese adults with fatty liver disease. “Our study found a moderate improvement in sleep quality was related to a 29 per cent reduction in the risk for fatty liver disease,” says study author Dr. Yan Liu of the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health and Sun Yat-sen University.

“Our study provides evidence that even a moderate improvement in sleep quality is sufficient to reduce the risk for fatty liver disease, especially in those with unhealthy lifestyles,” Liu continues. “Given that large proportions of subjects suffering from poor sleep quality are underdiagnosed and undertreated, our study calls for more research into this field and strategies to improve sleep quality.”

Fatty liver disease is the leading chronic liver disease worldwide and non-alcohol related fatty liver disease affects around 100 million Americans, according to the American Liver Foundation. Cases in children have more than doubled over the past 20 years.

The condition is fueled by obesity and Type 2 diabetes. It can cause liver failure and even death if it progresses to end-stage liver disease.

The findings were published in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology and Metabolism.

Report by South West News Service writer Gwyn Wright.