Poor sleep patterns and sedentary lifestyles could increase the risk of developing fatty liver disease, a new study has shown.

Around a quarter of the world’s population suffers from fatty liver disease, a condition caused by type 2 diabetes and obesity which can develop to end-stage liver disease.

Researchers looked at the sleep behaviour of just over 5,000 Chinese adults, all of whom had fatty liver disease. Those who went to bed late, snored or napped in the daytime were found to be more at risk of the condition, while improving sleep, even moderately, reduced the risk by 29%.

Dr Yan Liu, from the Guangdong Provincial Key Laboratory of Food, Nutrition and Health and Sun Yat-sen University in Guangzhou, China, said: “People with poor night-time sleep and prolonged daytime napping have the highest risk for developing fatty liver disease.

“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.

“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.”

The study has been published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

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