What is Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)?
Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver disease (NAFLD) is a condition with excess fat in the liver without alcoholic history and is the most common form of liver disease (5).
NAFLD often presents with no or mild symptoms in its early stages.
The progression of NAFLD can lead to liver inflammation, cell damage and fibrosis (scarring of liver tissue) i.e. NASH
Also called MASLD (metabolic dysfunction-associated steatotic liver disease)
What are the main risk factors?
NAFLD can affect anyone but it is commonly associated with:
Other risk factors include; alcohol and viral hepatitis. For more information visit the British Liver Trust website.
If you are unsure and would like to find out if you are at risk you can complete the Love your Liver health screener created by the British Liver Trust.
NAFLD Key Stats
Liver disease is the leading cause of mortality among individuals aged 35-49 years, making it a significant concern (3).
of the worldwide adult
population have NAFLD (5)
of type 2 diabetes
patients have NAFLD (6)
of obese patients
have NAFLD (7)
What is Non-Alcoholic Steato-Hepatitis (NASH)?
Non-Alcoholic Steatohepatitis (NASH) is a more severe form of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD).
It is characterised by inflammation and liver cell damage, along with the accumulation of fat in the liver.
NASH can progress to more serious liver conditions including cirrhosis (severe scarring of the liver), potential liver failure, and even liver cancer.
It is estimated up to 12% of the UK population are affected by NASH (3)
Also called MASH (metabolic associated steatohepatitis)
How are NAFLD and NASH managed?
Lifestyle modifications and treating underlying conditions.
This includes weight loss through a balanced diet and regular exercise, managing diabetes and cholesterol levels, avoiding alcohol and unnecessary medications, and controlling other metabolic risk factors.
Why is screening important?
Screening allows for the early identification of NAFLD, before significant symptoms or complications develop. Early detection can lead to timely intervention and management, potentially preventing the progression of the disease to more severe stages like non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or cirrhosis (9).
Prevention and lifestyle modifications:
Provides an opportunity for targeted interventions. Lifestyle modifications such as weight loss, dietary changes, regular exercise, and management of underlying conditions like diabetes and hypertension can help prevent or slow down the progression of NAFLD (9).
NAFLD, particularly NASH and advanced fibrosis, can lead to serious complications such as cirrhosis, liver failure, and liver cancer. By identifying at-risk patients through screening, healthcare providers can intervene early to prevent or minimize the risk of these complications. This may involve regular monitoring, medication management, or referral to specialists when necessary (10).
Patient education and awareness:
Screening provides an opportunity to educate individuals about the potential risks, lifestyle modifications, and treatment options associated with NAFLD. Increased awareness can empower patients to make informed decisions regarding their health and take proactive steps towards managing NAFLD effectively (11).