COVID-19 continues to dominate health discussions, and rightly so. While most parents can take comfort in knowing that children are not usually adversely affected by the virus, we must not lose sight of the fact that as many as six million children 14 years of age and younger have Non-Alcoholic Liver Disease (NAFLD). Once unheard of, this number is expected to continue to grow.
With this in mind, a major NASH kNOWledge 2020 initiative is the education of children about the importance of their liver. We also want parents to be informed about the growth of liver disease among children. Our project is called the Children’s Liver Education and Nutrition (or CLEAN) Initiative.
As a first step in implementing CLEAN we have added three resources to our website:
1. An infographic for parents regarding the increasing incidence of NAFLD and NASH in children. You can find this at https://www.nash-now.org/what-parents-need-to-know-about-childhood-liver-disease/
2. A more detailed discussion of children and liver disease, found at https://www.nash-now.org/your-child-and-liver-health/
3. An entertaining and educational coloring book for children of all ages and their parents called, Olivia & Oliver – Meet Your Miraculous Liver, produced by the Liver Health Initiative (LHI) and distributed by NASH Knowledge. The coloring book can be found at https://www.nash-now.org/color-me-healthy/
Additional steps will be announced as we continue to adapt to the hopefully temporary disruption to our way of life. With the closing of most schools, children are now home all day, with more opportunities to snack, and they may be following a diet that isn’t the healthiest. In addition, parents have, for at least a few months, increased hands-on participation in their children’s education. We want to encourage parents and schools to include the importance of the liver and understanding a healthy liver lifestyle as part of their educational instruction. Hopefully our new materials will be a help in that regard.
Typically, most of our awareness activities are targeted at educating people who are unaware of the increasing prevalence of non-alcoholic liver disease. People who are not concerned about liver disease are not going to be looking for a liver disease website. To paraphrase one of the judges on Shark Tank, we are trying to educate people about a problem they don’t know they have. Accordingly, a significant part of our strategy is visit places and attend events that attract groups of people and engage in discussions about liver disease. With the pandemic dominating our lives for the immediate future, the opportunity to attend such gatherings is probably lost for at least several months.
We will resume our external outreach activities once we get past the restrictions on business and social gatherings.