Obesity and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Quick Facts:

Here’s what you need to know about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease:

  • Obesity is a leading cause to fatty liver disease.
  • It will become the most common cause of liver cancer, surpassing Hepatitis C.
  • The condition affects more than 45% of Americans.
  • It is expected to become a leading indicator for liver transplants within the next 10 years.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious and potentially dangerous condition that should not be ignored, and it is almost always coupled with obesity.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a condition in which fat builds up in the liver that has the potential to cause liver damage. The disease is also linked to Type 2 diabetes and obesity. Studies have shown that nonalcoholic liver disease can increase depression and anxiety.

There are two types of fatty liver diseases:

  • Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).
  • NAFL is the build-up of fat in the liver without inflammation or liver damage, which can lead to subclinical atherosclerosis, obesity, and metabolic syndrome.

NASH, on the other hand, refers to fat build-up that is the result of inflammation and liver damage. NASH can lead to cirrhosis, liver failure, liver cell cancer and liver cancer.

Two Serious Diseases: Obesity and Fatty Liver

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is a serious and potentially dangerous condition that should not be ignored, and it is almost always coupled with obesity. 

Although obesity is the leading cause of NAFLD, the following can contribute to it: 

  • Obesity
  • High cholesterol levels
  • Insulin resistance
  • High levels of triglycerides in the blood
  • High blood pressure
  • High cholesterol
  • A sedentary lifestyle can contribute the most to non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

However, the most significant contributor is likely excessive intake of calories, high processed diet, digestion of unhealthy foods, and a high intake of alcohol consumption.

Consuming too many calories, particularly from processed and hit-fat foods, can lead to excess weight gain and fat accumulation in the liver.

The medications of tamoxifen and methotrexate may increase the chances of developing this condition.

Maintaining a healthy diet, controlling portion sizes, and regularly exercising can help prevent the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

What Are the Experts Saying?

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease will become the most common cause of liver cancer. It will soon surpass Hepatitis C, which does not have a cure.

The reason is because of obesity.

According to the American Association for the Study of Liver Diseases, NAFLD affects up to 45 percent of adults in the United States and is becoming more common worldwide.

For those who have non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, it is estimated that 1 in 4 might have non-alcoholic steatohepatitis.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is expected to emerge as a leading indicator for liver transplants within the next ten years.

Risks of Untreated Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

The potential risk factors of untreated NAFLD include:

An increased risk for liver cancer, Liver failure, Cardiovascular disease

A more severe form of liver disease, known as non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, can lead to cirrhosis and the need for a liver transplant.

Medical Conditions Associated with NAFLD

Some medical conditions associated with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease include:

Obesity High cholesterol High blood pressure Insulin resistance Type 2 diabetes

Genetics may play a role in developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Seek proper medical evaluation and treatment for any underlying conditions to manage and potentially improve non-alcoholic fatty liver disease progression.

Prevention of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Several steps can be taken to prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. These include eating a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, having good cholesterol, and exercising regularly.

It’s also important to manage other conditions, such as diabetes or high cholesterol, that may contribute to the development of fatty liver disease.

Discuss any concerns with your doctor so they can provide personalized guidance and support to help you prevent non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Treatment for People with NAFLD

Treatment includes weight loss to reduce fat in the liver, inflammation, and fibrosis. Lowering your cholesterol and triglycerides and controlling your diabetes.

Using medication to reduce cholesterol or triglycerides and medication to reduce blood pressure.

Stopping alcohol consumption is very important in treating alcohol-related fatty liver disease.

A liver transplant may be necessary if non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is severe.

Losing weight and managing diabetes can reverse or slow down the fat deposit in the liver.

The Bottom Line

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can lead to serious complications, such as liver scarring (cirrhosis) and liver failure.

Maintaining a healthy lifestyle for the rest of your life, including eating a balanced diet and exercising regularly, is crucial to prevent or manage non-alcoholic fatty liver disease.

Also, controlling health conditions such as diabetes and bad cholesterol can help manage the disease.