by Ilse Romahn
(29.12.2020) The corona pandemic made many people aware again last year that health is the most important thing in life. The expectations for a new year have never been as high as for 2021:
Hopes are high that the pandemic can soon be defeated and normal life will be possible again. At the start of the new year, the German Liver Foundation reminds everyone of the personal responsibility for their own health and the importance of a healthy lifestyle, which has positive effects on liver health and also strengthens the immune system.
Many people will remember the year 2020 badly. A survey published in December 2020 shows that the corona pandemic gives around 30 percent of the Germans surveyed the feeling of being in a disaster or emergency. Over two thirds of the respondents were completely surprised by the extent of the pandemic and would not have expected it in Germany. And just under ten percent stated that they had been prepared through preventive measures such as stockpiling.
Another aspect that the pandemic has made clear is that, in addition to stocking up on food and hygiene items, a good state of health also plays a major role as a precaution for extraordinary events. An example of a preventable increased risk of a severe course of COVID-19 is obesity, which is also known as the cause of liver disease. Why this has been a dangerous – but avoidable – development for several years is explained by the chairman of the board of the German Liver Foundation, Professor Dr. Michael P. Manns: “Since the 1970s, the prevalence of overweight and obesity, ie obesity, has tripled in the western world – also in Germany. This goes hand in hand with an increase in affluent diseases, including non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) as a starting point for possible liver diseases such as cirrhosis and liver cell cancer. In rare cases, a fatty liver can manifest itself undetected, for example due to a lipid metabolism disorder, even with normal body weight – one speaks here of the so-called thin thickness. ”
Younger men in particular are overweight. The new nutrition report published by the German Nutrition Society (DGE) in November 2020 shows that in the 30-year-old group, people of normal weight are in the minority. 59.4 percent of men between 18 and 65 years of age are too fat, while 37.3 percent of women in this age group are overweight or obese. That changes with increasing age: from 65, even women of normal weight are in the minority. In addition, every seventh child is overweight or obese.
Even before the corona pandemic, experts spoke of a dramatic development that was made even worse by the “lockdowns” with restricted sports opportunities and increased consumption of fast food. For the New Year, Professor Manns recommends: “For 2021, everyone should ask themselves the question in which areas of life they can do more for their health. In addition to making a lifestyle change in the areas of diet and exercise, we also recommend a critical look at alcohol consumption. Here we support the call by the Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) to give the liver a break from alcohol. The risks of alcohol consumption include alcoholic fatty liver disease (AFL), which, like the NAFL, can lead to cirrhosis and liver cell cancer. Another important part of personal health responsibility is also taking part in regular preventive examinations, during which blood and liver values (for example, GPT or ALT) can be checked. ”
There are many ways of making the year 2021 a healthier phase of life from which the liver will also benefit – provided you pursue the set goals in a motivated and focused manner. In 2021, health policy is also helping to ensure that liver health can be checked better and better: As part of the “health check-up” prevention program for those with statutory health insurance, known as “Check-up 35” until March 2019, all three are available from the age of 35 Years of entitlement to a preventive examination. In November 2020, the Federal Joint Committee (G-BA) decided that as a new component of this investigation, the test for the viral diseases hepatitis B and hepatitis C, which, like fatty liver hepatitis, can be responsible for the development of cirrhosis and liver cell cancer, will be used in future can be. The aim is to detect previously undiscovered infections with the hepatitis viruses B (HBV) and C (HCV). The decision is expected to come into force shortly. Eligible beneficiaries can take the newly introduced test for hepatitis B and C separately if their appointment for the “health check-up” is before the new regulation finally comes into effect.