American Liver Foundation Holds Capitol Hill Briefing on Obesity and Fatty Liver Disease

May 16, 2024

Speakers included leading medical expert, patient and family advocates

American Liver Foundation (ALF) held a Congressional briefing on Capitol Hill May 15th, Obesity: The Leading Cause of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)* and the Most Urgent Threat to Public Health Today, to discuss current dynamics around obesity and liver disease, as the prevalence of liver disease is increasing nationwide in parallel with the obesity epidemic. A full video recording of the briefing is available on ALF’s YouTube channel here:

During her remarks, ALF’s Chief Executive Officer, Lorraine Stiehl, stressed the importance of addressing the potential for dual benefit from obesity-reduction efforts in confronting NAFLD, a public health threat affecting nearly 100 million Americans. “Preliminary data from our ongoing nationwide public health initiative to screen at-risk individuals, Think Liver Think Life®, show 64% of those screened were found to have some indication of fatty liver disease.” She also discussed the need to support The Treat and Reduce Obesity Act (TROA), a bipartisan initiative, which would provide Medicare beneficiaries access to effective treatments for obesity, “Given the strong correlation between obesity and liver disease, this bill would provide crucial tools to address this urgent public health issue.”  Ms. Stiehl also acknowledged the importance of the first-ever study on NAFLD noting, “This study is imperative in understanding prevalence, diagnostic practices, treatment modalities, and potential complications.”  Read Ms. Stiehl’s full remarks.

In her keynote address, Meena Bansal, MD System Chief, Division of Liver Diseases; Director, MASLD/MASH Center of Excellence—Icahn School of Medicine, Mount Sinai, noted “More than 40% of the US population is living with obesity resulting in 1 out of 5 adult deaths. Obesity disproportionately affects diverse communities. The prevalence of MASH* continues to grow right alongside the diabetes and obesity epidemics. For years patients have been told they “JUST” have a little bit of fat in their liver, but not to worry about it. Then they present with advanced fibrosis requiring liver transplantation. The more metabolic risk factors you have, such as obesity, diabetes and hypertension, the more risk you have for advanced liver disease.”  Read Dr. Bansal’s full remarks.

In a passionate plea for the federal government to address this burgeoning public health crisis, David Frank, ALF board member, shared the devastating toll nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)* takes on families. “My mother, Geraldine, passed away after a very brief and completely unexpected battle with late-stage NASH. She was only 62 years old and had shown no symptoms until just weeks before being diagnosed. Like most people, my family and I had never even heard of the disease that took her from us. They call NASH the ‘silent killer’ and in Mom’s case it was certainly true; she was never diagnosed with any form of liver disease at all before NASH.” Read Mr. Frank’s full remarks.

Susan Avallone, RN, an ALF Advocacy Ambassador and NASH patient, provided the patient perspective stressing the important role of education. “As a retired school nurse, I have seen first-hand the perils of not educating people about proper diet, nutrition and exercise and unless we find a way to change that, the rise in obesity and other comorbidities, such as obesity, type-2 diabetes and liver disease will skyrocket and continue to plague future generations. You may think that as a practicing registered nurse, I would have known about fatty liver disease and been aware of its risks, however the truth is, there is a severe lack of education about liver health from both the public and medical perspectives.” Read Ms. Avallone’s full remarks.

Funding for the American Liver Foundation briefing on obesity and liver disease was provided by Novo Nordisk.

About the American Liver Foundation

American Liver Foundation (ALF) is a national community of patients, caregivers and medical professionals dedicated to helping people improve their liver health. Providing guidance and life-saving resources, we are a beacon for the 100 million Americans affected by liver disease. We advocate for patients and families, fund medical research and educate the public about liver wellness and disease prevention. We bring people together through our educational programs and events and create a network of support that lasts a lifetime. ALF is the largest organization focused on all liver diseases and the trusted voice for patients and families living with liver disease. For more information visit or call: 1 800 GO LIVER (800-465-4837).

*The nomenclature for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has recently changed to metabolic dysfunction associated steatotic liver disease (MASLD). Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) has been renamed to metabolic dysfunction associated steatohepatitis (MASH). Fatty liver disease is now called steatotic liver disease. Learn more about the nomenclature changes in this video:

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