Medical experts said the rate of obesity was increasing rapidly all over the world, including Pakistan, and was the main reason for increase rates of liver cancer.
They expressed these views during a webinar called 'Obesity and its Effects on the Liver'. The event was organised by Express Media Group in collaboration with the Pakistan Society for the Study of Liver Diseases (PSSLD) and Metier Group. It was held on the occasion of World Digestive Health Day 2021.
The session was moderated by PSSLD Governor and Dr Ziauddin University Hospital Gastroenterology Department Head Dr Zaigham Abbas. Gastroenterologists from all over the country participated as speakers.
Abbas said World Digestive Health Day was celebrated all over the world on May 29 every year. He said the celebration aimed to create awareness among people about the digestive system and other diseases affecting the liver.
"Whenever a disease spreads in the form of a pandemic, it affects the whole world," said Dr Abbas. He said obesity was also a disease and spreading like a pandemic. He said a person who weighs more than 20% of his body mass index (BMI) is considered obese.
Quoting World Health Organization statistics, Dr Abbas said the rate of obesity in the world is 8%. According to a survey conducted in Pakistan in 2014, the rate of obesity in Pakistan is 15%. He said obesity is higher in urban areas of Pakistan compared to rural ones.
According to Dr Abbas, obesity affects the whole body, including the liver, and also causes fatty liver by creating swelling and inflammation. A school survey found that more than 20% of children in schools are overweight, said Dr Abbas. He added this can lead to obesity, even in adolescence.
Professor Shahid Rasool from Madina Teaching Hospital, Faisalabad, said a fatty liver had become the biggest cause of liver failure in the world, including Pakistan. He stated diabetes was the main cause of a fatty liver. He said that one of the main reasons for all these health issues were unhealthy and inactive lifestyles.
Professor Ghiasun Nabi Tayyab of the Lahore General Hospital said obesity not only caused fat on the body, but also inflammation which leads to major changes. "The most important change is that the risk of various cancers increases and this subsequently increases mortality rate," he added.
According to Tayyab, hepatitis B and C are the leading causes of liver cancer in India and Pakistan with obesity the main cause in the world. Liver cancer is increasing rapidly in developed and developing countries at this time, said Prof.Tayyab.
The experts stressed on changing lifestyles and eating habits. They said a balanced diet, living an active life, exercising regularly and not using antibiotics unnecessarily could help prevent obesity.
Published in The Express Tribune, May 24th, 2021.