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TRANSPLANT PATIENT IS LIVING PROOF OF NEED FOR HEALTHIER FOOD CHOICES ON-THE-GO

by Anna Withrow
Monday, February 25, 2008

Convenience foods compete for top honours at LIVERight Awards aiming to prevent Canada’s most prevalent liver disease

Toronto, ON, February 20, 2008 – March marks both nutrition and liver health month and this year, the Canadian Liver Foundation wants Canadians to connect the two health themes as they raise awareness of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), North America’s most prevalent form of liver disease.

NAFLD’s most common identified cause is obesity but even people who might be considered ‘thin’ are not exempt. “We’re increasingly hearing about NAFLD cases in which patients aren’t obese but they maintain two lifestyle factors contributing to obesity – they are inactive and have nutritionally poor diets,” said Canadian Liver Foundation’s president Gary Fagan. “NAFLD is not a rare liver disease, it affects 10% to 24% of the world’s population and it’s been diagnosed in children as young as age four. Unfortunately, with 25,000 liver patients to every one hepatologist in Canada, our resources to effectively treat that four year old patient are already shockingly low and will only get worse. We need to focus on prevention by creating an immediate link in people’s minds between liver health and nutrition.”

Liver transplant patient, Dale Smith, age 61, agrees with Fagan. Smith has a family history of liver disease and was always conscious and proactive about his liver health. Dale wasn’t overweight, and only drank alcohol socially and stopped completely in the mid 1990s. Dale wasn’t active, and prior to 2000, Dale’s hectic downtown Toronto work schedule and office location frequently left him making poor dietary choices in fast food courts. Dr. David Wong, Gastroenterologist and Clinical Director of the Liver Clinic at Toronto Western Hospital diagnosed Dale with NAFLD in 2000; he was simultaneously diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes. Dr. Wong also identified the culprit in Dale’s ailing liver health: his diet.

Two to three years ago Dale’s energy dropped noticeably because his condition had progressed to NASH (Non Alcoholic Steatohepatitis, the more severe end of the spectrum of NAFLD). Last year, Dale’s condition had advanced to liver cancer; the tumour was removed July 2007 but Dale was warned that he would need a new liver. Dale had a deceased donor liver transplant mid December, 2007. Since the transplant, Dale’s diabetes has improved and numerous bodily functions including blood enzymes have returned to normal levels.

Understanding that cases like Smith’s aren’t unique, the Canadian Liver Foundation has created a new competition and event to address Canadians’ need for convenient, nutritious dietary choices - The LIVERight Awards. The LIVERight Awards panel of judges will compare products according to their taste, visual appeal and nutritional information. The judges include: Theresa Albert, D.H.N., R.N.C.P. ( host of the popular Food Network series, Just One Bite, owner of Thyme for Supper, and author of Cook Once a Week, Eat Well Every Day), Monda Rosenberg (Food and Nutrition Editor, Chatelaine Magazine), Steffan Howard (Head Chef, Palais Royale), Wendy Baskerville, Madeleine Edwards, R.D. (Nutrition by M.E.), Minnow Hamilton (co-founder of Savvymom.ca) and Victoria Sopik, (CEO of Kids and Company).

“The consuming public no longer cares to spend precious free time doing what our mothers did,” says Wendy Baskerville, LIVERight judge and member of the Research Chef’s Association in her interview with Food In Canada magazine, “…(but) there are ways and means available now to provide expert nutrition along with superb taste and texture in the ready-to-go-format. Our challenge is to keep raising the bar on this standard.”

On February 28th, the Canadian Liver Foundation, along with partners at Food In Canada magazine and sponsors Western Grocer magazine and Captive Channel, will present awards for the tastiest and most nutritious items from the Prepared/packaged Food industries at the Palais Royale. LIVERight Award winners will be featured on Captive Channel’s in-store display units in hundreds of grocery stores across Canada.

For more details visit: www.liver.ca/liverightawards.

The LIVERight Awards are part of the Foundation’s LIVERight initiative which aims to make liver health a priority for all Canadians. Since 1969, the Canadian Liver Foundation's mandate has been "to reduce the incidence and impact of all liver diseases." Through the national office and regional chapters across Canada, the Foundation actively supports education and research into the causes, diagnoses, prevention and treatment of liver disease.