Nonobese Fatty Liver Disease

Clin Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2017 Apr;15(4):474-485. doi: 10.1016/j.cgh.2016.08.028. Epub 2016 Aug 28.


Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) refers to a group of conditions characterized by hepatic steatosis in the absence of significant alcohol consumption. NAFLD is seen commonly in patients with metabolic abnormalities associated with obesity, such as type II diabetes, dyslipidemia, and metabolic syndrome. Evidently, however, not all obese subjects develop NAFLD and, more importantly, NAFLD can be found in nonobese individuals. Although NAFLD occurring in nonobese subjects has been reported in children and adults of all ethnicities, it appears to be recognized more frequently in Asians, even when strict ethnicity-specific body mass index criteria are used to define obesity. Studies based on liver biopsies suggest that the prevalence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and fibrosis does not differ significantly between nonobese NAFLD and NAFLD in obese patients. Visceral obesity as opposed to general obesity, high fructose and cholesterol intake, and genetic risk factors (eg, palatin-like phospholipase domain-containing 3) may be associated with nonobese NAFLD. In general, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis is associated with increased mortality, primarily from cardiovascular causes, independent of other metabolic factors. Although data regarding the mortality impact of nonobese NAFLD are not as mature, it may be important to identify high-risk nonobese NAFLD patients and manage their metabolic profile. Currently, lifestyle modification to reduce visceral adiposity, including dietary changes and physical activity, remains the standard of care in patients with nonobese NAFLD.

Keywords: Body Mass Index; Hepatic Steatosis; Lean; Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease; Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis; Nonobese; Nonoverweight.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Ethnicity
  • Exercise
  • Feeding Behavior
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Life Style
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / epidemiology*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / pathology*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease / therapy
  • Prevalence
  • Survival Analysis