The Dietary Science Foundation
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Nearly a quarter of the world’s adult population has fatty liver disease, a condition that follows in the footsteps of obesity. There is currently no medical treatment and sufferers are at risk of dying prematurely. The Dietary Science Foundation has just awarded 60,000 euros to researchers who will investigate whether a strict low-carbohydrate diet or periodic fasting can help patients get rid of liver fat.
Twelve project proposals were submitted to the Dietary Research Foundation in connection with the announcement about funding for research related to diet for obesity and type 2 diabetes. We have decided to support three of these projects with a total of 130,000 euros. Today we would like to tell you about the first project where Hannes Hagström, a specialist at the center for gastroenterology at Karolinska University Hospital, will study the effects of various dietary treatments in fatty liver disease.
“There is currently no medical treatment for fatty liver. Some patients go on to develop cirrhosis of the liver and liver cancer. By getting rid of liver fat the risk of developing these diseases is reduced dramatically. In all probability it would mean fewer cases of severe type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease, which are closely linked to fatty liver,” says Hannes Hagström.
Fatty liver disease was previously something primarily associated with alcoholism, but the condition has seen a significant increase as part of the obesity epidemic. It is estimated that a quarter of the world’s adult population has fatty liver disease and increasing numbers of young people are affected. Studies from the United States show that one in ten teenagers has a fatty liver, and that the condition has increased the need for liver transplantations in both adolescents and adults.
Current recommendations are for sufferers to avoid sweetened drinks, control portion sizes and exercise, but few people manage to get rid of their liver fat. Hannes Hagström will study whether a strict low-carbohydrate diet, LCHF, or periodic fasting, known as the 5:2 diet, are more effective methods of treatment.
“Both of these diets are popular. LCHF has spread all over the world and 5:2 fasting is popular in Britain and Sweden, for example. Instead of reinventing the wheel we want to study the diets that patients ask us about,” Hannes Hagström says.
One tenth of all people with fatty liver are of normal weight, the rest are overweight or obese. It’s enough for sufferers to reduce their body weight by ten percent for the fat stored in the liver to get burned off, but few people can manage this in the long term.
The study will include a total of 75 people randomized into three different groups: LCHF, a 5:2 diet or conventional dietary advice. The subjects will receive support as they follow the diet for three months, and the changes in the amount of liver fat will be measured using magnetic resonance imaging. In addition, the researchers will track weight loss, blood lipids and a number of other risk markers for liver disease and type 2 diabetes. So far twelve people have been included in the project, which is estimated to take 2-3 years to complete.
“The money from the Dietary Science Foundation is very important. It allows us to focus on the project and carry it out faster than we otherwise would have been able to do, ” says Hannes Hagström.
The Dietary Science Foundation’s scientific advisory board has judged the project to be well designed and of great value for patients and society.
This investment has been made possible thanks to the 24,000 euros donated to us by Romme Alpin last spring. It has meant a lot to us! We would also like to thank all the other companies and individuals who have made this project possible with their donations. Our goal is to prevent disease, and better treatments for fatty liver disease can save many lives.
Tomorrow we will tell you about the next project we’ve decided to support. Don’t miss it!