Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

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.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one cause of a fatty liver, occurring when fat is deposited (steatosis) in the liver due to other causes than excessive alcohol use. NAFLD is the most common liver disorder in Western industrialized nations. 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.

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