Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease: the hepatic consequence of obesity and the metabolic syndrome

Proc Nutr Soc. 2010 May;69(2):211-20. doi: 10.1017/S0029665110000030. Epub 2010 Feb 17.


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is now the most common liver disease in both adults and children worldwide. As a disease spectrum, NAFLD may progress from simple steatosis to steatohepatitis, advanced fibrosis and cirrhosis. An estimated 20-35% of the general population has steatosis, 10% of whom will develop the more progressive non-alcoholic steatohepatitis associated with markedly increased risk of cardiovascular- and liver-related mortality. Development of NAFLD is strongly linked to components of the metabolic syndrome including obesity, insulin resistance, dyslipidaemia and type 2 diabetes. The recognition that NAFLD is an independent risk factor for CVD is a major public health concern. There is a great need for a sensitive non-invasive test for the early detection and assessment of the stage of NAFLD that could also be used to monitor response to treatment. The cellular and molecular aetiology of NAFLD is multi-factorial; genetic polymorphisms influencing NAFLD have been identified and nutrition is a modifiable environmental factor influencing NAFLD progression. Weight loss through diet and exercise is the primary recommendation in the clinical management of NAFLD. The application of systems biology to the identification of NAFLD biomarkers and factors involved in NAFLD progression is an area of promising research.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Fatty Liver / diagnosis
  • Fatty Liver / etiology*
  • Fatty Liver / therapy
  • Humans
  • Metabolic Syndrome / complications*
  • Obesity / complications*
  • Systems Biology