Over-eating will replace alcohol as the reason for most liver transplants by 2020, an expert has said. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease , caused by eating more than the organ can handle, is “one of the major and growing challenges”, warned Dr Quentin Anstee.

There had been a “shift in the entire population” with people “carrying a few more pounds than a decade ago”.

He added: “By the end of this decade, NAFLD will be the most common underlying reason why people have liver transplants, overtaking alcohol.” A study showed 33% of Britons have the condition. Dr Anstee, consultant at Newcastle University, said liver disease had increased 400% since the 1970s. The university is set to be the centre of Europe-wide research into liver disease.

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