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Rise in Fatty Liver Disease Linked to Obesity and Diabetes

Gut has published population results from NHANES population study showing that the prevalence of fatty liver disease is rising in the US and is driven by obesity and diabetes.

Between 1988 and 2016, the proportion of adults with non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) rose from 20% to 28.3%, mirroring increases in rates of obesity and diabetes over the same period. NAFLD patients were more likely to be male, older and Hispanic.

During the study period, the proportion of the population with obesity rose from 22.2% to 38.9% while the proportion with diabetes climbed from 7.2% to 13.5%, researchers report in Gut.

Alcoholic liver disease rates were unchanged changed during this period (0.8% to 1%) and the proportion with chronic viral hepatitis (HCV, HBV) became less common or remained stable.

Many people may not realize they have NAFLD because they can live symptom-free for years, the study team writes. Researchers identified NAFLD cases based on ultrasound results showing liver damage in participants.

Their analyses showed that obese raised the odds of having NAFLD more than 10-fold, and having diabetes raised the likelihood nearly four-fold, the analysis found. NHANES showed that nearly 80% of those with both obesity and type 2 diabetes had NAFLD.

The author has no conflicts of interest to disclose related to this subject

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