Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

What is non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition characterized by too much fat built up and stored in liver cells. This buildup of fat is not due to the common, heavy use of alcohol. People who do not drink a lot and have fatty livers are considered to have NAFLD. Fat deposits may keep the liver from functioning properly or removing toxins from the blood. A liver with too much fat (over 5% to 10% of the liver’s weight) is considered a fatty liver. NAFLD commonly develops in people who are overweight, or have diabetes. NAFLD is divided into two separate conditions, simple fatty liver and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). People typically develop one type of NAFLD or the other, although sometimes people with one form are later diagnosed with the other form of NAFLD.
Simple fatty liver
Simple fatty liver, also called non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFL), is when fat in the liver is present but little or no inflammation or liver cell damage. 
Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH)
NASH is a form of NAFLD in which inflammation and liver cell damage, in addition to fat in your liver, are present.
Risk factors
  • High levels of LDL (“bad”) cholesterol in the blood
  • High levels of triglycerides in the blood
  • Metabolic syndrome
  • Being overweight or obesity, particularly when fat is concentrated in the abdomen
  • Hypopituitarism - underactive pituitary gland 
After a patient’s physical exam and medial history reports, blood tests are conducted to check for liver enzymes, which are high when a person has NAFLD. A diagnosis of NAFLD can be confirmed with an ultrasound of the liver. Samples of liver tissue can be taken in a biopsy to distinguish between NAFLD and NASH.
There are currently no treatments specifically for NAFLD; however, evidence suggests that diet plays an important role in controlling or reversing the symptoms of NAFLD. Unbalanced diets are strongly associated with NAFLD.
  • NAFLD is one of the most common causes of liver disease in the United States. 
  • Affects an estimated 80 to 100 million people in United States.
  • About 20-30% of all adults have fatty livers. 
  • Close to 10% of U.S. children ages 2 to 19 have NAFLD.
  • Researchers have found NAFLD in 40-80% of people who have type II diabetes and in 30-90% of people who are obese.
non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

  • "Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease." Mayo Clinic. Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 23 Aug. 2016. Web. 08 June 2017.
  • Kristine. "Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD) and Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH)." PAMF - California Health Care | Health Education. Palo Alto Medical Foundation, n.d. Web. 08 June 2017.
  • "Eating, Diet, & Nutrition for NAFLD & NASH." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 01 Nov. 2016. Web. 08 June 2017.
  • "Types of Fatty Liver Disease and Who's at Risk." Johns Hopkins Medicine Health Library. Johns Hopkins Health System, n.d. Web. 08 June 2017.


The American Diabetes Association treats Alert Day as an opportunity to help identify the undiagnosed and those at risk for type 2 diabetes through education and advocacy. Check out this infographic to learn about why diabetes is a looming threat for many Americans:
*NAFLD is found in 40-80% of individuals living with type 2 diabetes*
american diabetes association alert day

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