FRIDAY, Sept. 21 (HealthDay News) -- Diets high in quick-burning carbohydrates may cause fatty liver disease, which can lead to liver failure and death, according to a study in mice by researchers at Children's Hospital Boston.
If these findings are confirmed in humans, it may mean that fatty liver disease can be prevented and possibly treated through dietary changes, the study authors said.
They fed mice either a high- or low-glycemic index diet. The mice on the high-glycemic diet received a type of cornstarch that's digested quickly, while those on the low-glycemic diet received a cornstarch that's slowly digested.
In humans, examples of high-glycemic foods -- which raise blood sugar quickly -- include white bread, white rice, most prepared breakfast cereals and concentrated sugar. Vegetables, fruits, beans and unprocessed grains are examples of low-glycemic foods, which raise blood sugar slowly.
In this study, both groups of mice received equal amounts of total calories, fat, protein, and carbohydrate. After six months, both groups of mice weighed the same. However, the mice on the high-glycemic diet had twice the amount of fat in their bodies, blood and livers than those on the low-glycemic diet.
The findings were published in the September issue of the journal Obesity.
"Our experiment creates a very strong argument that a high-glycemic index diet causes, and a low-glycemic diet prevents, fatty liver in humans," research leader Dr. David Ludwig, director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston, said in a prepared statement.
He and his colleagues have just launched a clinical trial to examine whether a low-glycemic index diet can reverse fatty liver in overweight children.
The American Liver Foundation has more about fatty liver.