Fatty liver disease is a condition in which excess fat is stored inside liver cells, making it harder for the liver to function. One cause of fat buildup in the liver is heavy alcohol use, referred to as alcoholic fatty liver disease. This is a common, but preventable disease and is the earliest stage of alcohol-related liver disease. You can read more about the different stages of alcohol-related liver disease here.
When the buildup of fat in the liver is not related to significant alcohol consumption, the condition is called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
NAFLD is a general term for a range of conditions characterized by extra fat in liver cells that is not caused by alcohol. It’s normal for the liver to contain some fat. However, if more than 5 percent of the liver’s weight is fat, it’s considered a fatty liver (steatosis). There are two different types of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease:
NAFLD is the most common chronic liver condition in the United States. It’s estimated that about 25 percent of adults in the U.S. have NAFLD. Of those with NAFLD, about 20 percent have NASH (5% of adults in the U.S.). Most people with NAFLD have simply fatty liver.
The reason some people with NAFLD have simple fatty liver and others get NASH isn’t known, although research suggests that certain genes may play a role.
Last updated on October 25th, 2022 at 09:40 am