Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease Expected to Reach Epidemic Level

liverThe United States could soon be faced with an epidemic of Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD), according to new data presented at the International Liver Congress.  NAFLD occurs when fat accumulates in liver cells of people who are not heavy drinkers. It is the most common liver disorder in Western societies, and has an overall prevalence of 20-30%.  Additionally, NAFLD is a major contributor in Chronic Liver Disease (CLD), which is one of the major causes of illness and death worldwide.  Obesity and its associated diseases significantly increase the risk of NAFLD.

ScienceDaily reports that the study looked at data collected over a twenty year span (1988-1994, 1999-2004 and 2005-2008) and included 39,500 adults.  One of the key findings was that if the current rates of obesity and diabetes continue for another 20 years, the prevalence of NAFLD in the US is expected to increase by an alarming 50% in 2030. The study also found that during the first survey cycle 46.8% of all CLD’s was related to NAFLD, but by 2005-2008 this had increased to 75.1%. During this period, obesity and diabetes, the two main risk factors for NAFLD, also increased.

Mark Thursz, who is the Vice Secretary of the European Association for the study of the liver commented: “Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is fast becoming one of the top concerns for clinicians due to the obesity epidemic and it’s potential to progress to advanced liver disease. This data highlights a serious concern for the future, and the enormous increasing health burden of NAFLD. If the obesity epidemic is anything to go by, the U.S. NAFLD epidemic may have a ripple effect worldwide…”

You can read ScienceDaily’s article here.

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