Some fat in the liver is normal, but for a large and growing group of people too much fat in the liver puts them at risk for a condition called nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
The rise in numbers of people with fatty liver disease is tied to the increase in obesity. It’s yet another reason to maintain a normal weight, but you don’t have to be obese to get it.
About 30 percent of adults and an increasing number of children now have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The abnormal accumulation of fat in their liver tissue can lead to inflammation, liver damage requiring liver transplant, cancer, and even death.
We are seeing that rates of fatty liver disease can differ by ancestry. Hispanics have higher rates of fatty liver disease than other groups.
The racial difference is unclear but part of the story may be genetic predisposition to developing the disease in combination with the right environmental triggers.
The general public may not be aware of their risk for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, but about a decade ago the medical community recognized it as a digestive health issue to watch.