Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Image Caption : Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) : A comparison of a healthy liver (top) and an unhealthy, fatty liver (bottom). The liver is a large organ, about the size of a football, located in the upper right abdomen underneath the ribs. It plays a major part in many core bodily functions such as metabolism, digestion, and detoxification. However, consuming excess calories, especially in the form of refined sugars, can cause fat to be stored in the liver--leading to a condition known as nonalcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD). The excess fat can lead to inflammation of the liver, which can become scarred and hardened.

Fatty Liver Disease

What is fatty liver disease?

Fatty liver disease, also known as nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), occurs when fat builds up in the liver and causes injury. Fatty liver disease may lead to severe liver damage, cirrhosis (scar tissue), or even liver failure. Fatty liver disease usually produces mild or no symptoms. It is like alcoholic liver disease, but it isn't caused by alcohol and can occur in people who drink little or no alcohol.

How is fatty liver disease linked to overweight?

The cause of fatty liver disease is still not known. The disease most often affects people who are middle-aged, overweight or obese, and/or diabetic. Fatty liver disease may also affect children.

How can weight loss help?

Although there is no specific treatment for fatty liver disease, patients are generally advised to lose weight, eat a healthy diet, increase physical activity, and avoid drinking alcohol. If you have fatty liver disease, lowering your body weight to a healthy range may improve liver tests and reverse the disease to some extent.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases /NIH

Liver Diseases

Also called: Hepatic disease

Your liver is the largest organ inside your body. It helps your body digest food, store energy, and remove poisons.

There are many kinds of liver diseases. Viruses cause some of them, like hepatitis A, hepatitis B and hepatitis C. Others can be the result of drugs, poisons or drinking too much alcohol. If the liver forms scar tissue because of an illness, it's called cirrhosis. Jaundice, or yellowing of the skin, can be one sign of liver disease.

Cancer can affect the liver. You could also inherit a liver disease such as hemochromatosis.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the causes of fatty liver, occurring when fat is deposited (steatosis) in the liver due to causes other than excessive alcohol use. NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in developed countries. A recent study using the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) found a 30% prevalence of NAFLD in the United States between 2011 and 2012.

NAFLD is related to insulin resistance and the metabolic syndrome and may respond to treatments originally developed for other insulin-resistant states (e.g. diabetes mellitus type 2) such as weight loss, metformin and thiazolidinediones. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most extreme form of NAFLD, and is regarded as a major cause of cirrhosis of the liver of unknown cause.

The material on this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended as medical advice. It should not be used to diagnose or treat any medical condition. Consult a licensed medical professional for the diagnosis and treatment of all medical conditions and before starting a new diet or exercise program. If you have a medical emergency, call 911 immediately.