More than 500,000 overweight children in England may be at risk of developing liver disease, a leading health advisor has claimed.

Professor Martin Lombard, England's national clinical director for liver disease, has claimed half a million four to 14-year-olds could be at risk of developing "fatty liver disease".

He claimed that many children risk serious liver problems - including cirrhosis - as they get older, due to obesity during childhood. He warned that "non-alcoholic fatty liver disease" could be a silent killer among this generation of children.

He said: "The unfortunate problem with liver disease is you don't get any symptoms at all until it's at an advanced stage. So you get cirrhosis and then you have complications that arise from that cirrhosis which can be very serious.

"So it's not until that late stage that you get any symptoms at all.

"Parents should be concerned about children who are overweight as they will be at risk of developing fatty liver.

"If they don't become more active and lose the weight as they go on, then they become overweight adults and have a range of other risk factors as well."

Posted by Robert Mair on 4.7.11 Comment on this article by sending it to: penny.hosie@pavpub.com