Covid pandemic could lead to thousands more liver disease cases in Wales, warns charity

Posted on: 26th February 2021

Research shows that more than a half of adults in Wales may have been putting their livers at risk during the pandemic. Almost half of adults have put on weight and one in three admit they are drinking more alcohol – two of the biggest risk factors for developing the life-threatening disease.1

Deaths from liver disease in Wales have more than doubled in the past 20 years, largely due to the rise in obesity and alcohol misuse – the two biggest risk factors for developing liver disease.2

The British Liver Trust is calling for people in Wales to improve their liver health and find out more about the risk factors. The charity is worried that we could face a crisis if the unhealthy habits continue, and is calling for every person in Wales to consider their liver health and take a simple quiz to assess their risk.

The charity has issued the stark warning after:

  • One third of adults in Wales said they drank more alcohol and ate more sugary and processed food during lockdown in 2020.1
  • 47% of people in Wales said they gained weight during lockdown in 2020.1
  • 61% of adults in Wales are either overweight or obese3.
  • 20% of people in Wales drink alcohol at a harmful level4.

The British Liver Trust is urging people to take their ‘At Risk’ screening tool: www.britishlivertrust.org.uk/screener

Vanessa Hebditch, Director of Policy and Communications at the British Liver Trust said:

“Many of us use alcohol or unhealthy foods as our go-to stress reliever, and the Covid pandemic has been a very stressful time for everyone. We are really worried that people are putting their livers at risk and we will see a liver disease crisis in Wales. We would urge people to try to find other ways to relieve their stress such as taking exercise, meeting friends virtually and eating healthily.

“We also know that some people have missed out on appointments and treatment while healthcare resources have been diverted elsewhere as a result of the pandemic. We are very concerned that some of those people will already have undiagnosed liver disease which won’t show symptoms until the very late stages when treatment options are limited.”

The British Liver Trust is running support groups throughout Wales to help patients understand more about their liver disease and support people during the pandemic. Julie Adams, one of the charity’s team in Wales said: “We are doing our best to continue to support people across Wales who are living with liver disease, we would urge anyone who has been diagnosed, or their family members, to get in touch through the British Liver Trust website.”

References:

  1. Lockdown weight gain in Wales could lead to a surge in a life-threatening form liver disease, charity warns - British Liver Trust
  2. Health in Wales | New measures to tackle liver disease in Wales
  3. Preventing non-communicable diseases in Wales - British Liver Trust
  4. pdf (rocketcdn.me)
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