Fatty Liver Disease

Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

  • Fatty liver disease, also called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) causes excess fat to build up in the liver. It is a “silent” disease with few or no symptoms. Causes are still being studied, but research points to genetics, digestive disorders, and diet.
    • It is not caused by heavy alcohol use (alcohol-associated liver disease). Risk factors include: being overweight/obesity, type 2 diabetes/insulin resistance, high cholesterol/triglyceride levels, one or more traits of metabolic syndrome (traits and medical conditions linked to overweight/obesity), and older age.
    • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a form of NAFLD in which you have inflammation of the liver and liver damage, in addition to fat in your liver.
    • The two kinds of NAFLD are nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFL) and nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). NAFLD may be renamed metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD) when associated with metabolic syndrome.
  • NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease in the U.S. About 24% of U.S. adults are estimated to have it. Cleveland Clinic estimates that about 20-30% of adults in the U.S. have excess fat in their liver.
  • In the U.S., NAFLD affects between 80 and 100 million individuals, among whom nearly 25% progress to NASH. Many do not know they have the disease. 11% of NASH patients will develop cirrhosis or liver failure.
  • NAFLD is the most common cause of liver disease worldwide. The global prevalence of NAFLD is estimated as high as one billion.
  • Research estimates that NAFLD is present in up to 75% of overweight people and in more than 90% of people with severe obesity.

Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)

  • Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is a dangerously progressive form of NAFLD in which patients have inflammation of the liver and liver damage, in addition to excess fat. About 1.5% to 6.5% of U.S. adults have NASH; one estimate states 9-15 million have NASH.
  • NASH prevalence projected to increase by 63% between 2015 and 2030.
  • NASH is expected to become the leading cause of liver transplantation in the United States between 2020-2025.
  • NASH may progress to hepatocellular cancer (HCC) and is also a leading cause of liver transplant.
  • Partial breakdown of NAFLD/NASH prevalence by race by the NASH Education Program:
    NAFLD overall prevalence in the U.S. (2013 data): 34%; NAFLD prevalence by race/ethnicity (2011 data): Hispanic/Latino people: 58.3; White people: 44.6%; Black/African-American people: 35.1%.
    NASH overall prevalence in the U.S. (2013 data):12%; NASH prevalence by race/ethnicity (2011 data): Hispanic/Latino people: 19.4%; White people: 9.8%.

How Children are Affected by Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

  • NAFLD has become the most common form of childhood liver disease in the U.S., more than doubling over the past 20 years, partly because of the increase in childhood obesity. Studies estimate that 5% to 10% of children have NAFLD.
  • Prevalence of NAFLD in children by race/ethnicity: children of Hispanic/Latino ethnicity (11.8%); Asian children (10.2%); White children (8.6%); children of Black/African American race (estimate of 1.5%).

Last updated on September 11th, 2023 at 04:21 pm

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