Who’s at risk for fatty liver disease, from the Harvard Health Letter

Published: January, 2011

Up to 20% of American adults have some degree of fatty liver disease, a condition that used to occur almost exclusively in people who drink too much alcohol. The increase can be blamed on the twin epidemics of obesity and diabetes, reports the January 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Letter.

One leading theory is that the condition starts when muscle, fat, and liver cells stop responding normally to insulin. This so-called insulin resistance is a hallmark of obesity and diabetes. Insulin resistance also increases the amount of fat molecules circulating in the blood. The accumulation of these molecules inside liver cells can lead to liver inflammation and damage. This is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

To continue reading this article, you must login.
  • Research health conditions
  • Check your symptoms
  • Prepare for a doctor's visit or test
  • Find the best treatments and procedures for you
  • Explore options for better nutrition and exercise
Learn more about the many benefits and features of joining Harvard Health Online »