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Dads' Early-Onset Obesity Linked to Liver Disease in Kids
Date:4/3/2008

Genetic ties suspected between father's, but not mother's, weight and elevated enzymes

THURSDAY, April 3 (HealthDay News) -- People whose fathers had early-onset obesity are at increased risk for elevated liver enzyme levels and liver disease, says a U.S. study.

Researchers evaluated 1,732 children, average age 42, of participants in the Framingham Heart Study, a long-term study of families in Framingham, Mass. The researchers found that people whose fathers were clinically obese at an early age were more likely to have increased liver enzyme (serum alanine aminotransferase -- ALT) levels, an indicator of liver disease.

When the researchers conducted a secondary analysis that didn't include obese offspring, they still found a strong link between elevated serum ALT levels and paternal early-onset obesity. This demonstrates that the link between obesity in the father and elevated serum ALT levels in children is independent of the offspring's body-mass index (BMI) and persists among non-obese children, the researchers said.

No relationship was found between early-onset obesity in mothers and ALT levels in their children.

"These findings show that familial factors may play a role in elevated serum ALT levels in the general population," study senior author Dr. Caroline S. Fox, medical officer with the Framingham Heart Study, said in a prepared statement.

The study was published in the April issue of Gastroenterology.

Serum ALT levels are a marker of liver disease in the general population, and previous studies have shown that there's a strong link between obesity and elevated serum ALT levels, according to background information in the study.

Up to 7 percent of the adult U.S. population has unexplained elevated ALT serum levels, according to the U.S. National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey. These elevated ALT serum levels may be due to nonalcoholic fatty liver dise
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