- 1Center for Liver Diseases, Department of Medicine, Inova Fairfax Medical Campus, Falls Church, Virginia, USA.
- 2Betty and Guy Beatty Center for Integrated Research, Inova Health System, Falls Church, Virginia, USA.
- 3Center for Outcomes Research in Liver Diseases, Washington, DC, USA.
Background: The prevalence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is increasing in parallel with obesity and type 2 diabetes.
Aim: To review the global epidemiology of NAFLD METHODS: We retrieved articles from PubMed using search terms of NAFLD, epidemiology, prevalence, incidence, and comorbidities.
Results: Over 250 articles were reviewed. In 2016, the global NAFLD prevalence was 25%; this increased to >30% in 2019. Prevalence in Asia, Latin America and Middle East-North Africa (MENA) was 30.8%, 34.5% and 42.6%, respectively. Prevalence increased with age. Although prevalence was higher in men, prevalence in post-menopausal women was similar. NAFLD prevalence was higher in certain subpopulations, especially among the obese and those with metabolic syndrome (MS). However, the prevalence of lean NAFLD was 11.2%. The global prevalence of non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is estimated between 2% and 6% in the general population. Approximately 7% of patients with NAFLD have advanced fibrosis; rates were between 21% and 50% among patients with NASH. Overall mortality related to NAFLD was 15-20 per 1000 person-years, and increased substantially in patients with NASH, especially in those with components of MS. Recent data suggest mortality/morbidity from NAFLD is increasing globally but NAFLD awareness remains low among patients and healthcare providers.
Conclusions: NAFLD poses a global public health problem with a very high disease burden in Asia, MENA and Latin America. Research is needed to better quantify the full impact of NAFLD and to develop strategies to improve awareness and risk stratification.