NAFLD, NASH and fatty liver disease

Non-alcohol related fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a general term for fatty liver disease that has not been caused by alcohol. In the UK most but not all cases of NAFLD are caused by overweight and obesity. Non-alcohol related steatohepatitis (NASH) is the second, more serious stage of NAFLD.

Most people with NAFLD won’t develop serious liver disease. But in a small number of people it can progress to cirrhosis, liver cancer or liver failure. Some people are only diagnosed once it has reached a late stage. The good news is that NAFLD can usually be stopped and even reversed by eating a well-balanced diet, being more physically active, and (if needed) losing weight.

Acute fatty liver disease is not the same as NAFLD. Acute fatty liver can occur suddenly during pregnancy (acute fatty liver of pregnancy or AFLP) or due to certain drugs or toxins.

Read more about AFLP here.

NAFLD is not a very specific name because it defines the disease as being a fatty liver caused by anything other than alcohol. So some people want to change the name we give to a fatty liver caused by excess weight, which accounts for most cases of NAFLD.

One alternative is metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD). This has been suggested by some academics and clinicians and you might hear it being used.



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