1Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6, Canada.
2Department of Community Health Sciences, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6, Canada.
3O'Brien Institute for Public Health, Cumming School of Medicine, University of Calgary, Calgary, AB T2N 4Z6, Canada.
Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a significant public health concern worldwide with a complex etiology attributed to behavioural, environmental, and genetic causes. The worldwide prevalence of NAFLD is estimated to be 32.4% and constantly rising. Global data, however, indicate considerable heterogeneity among studies for both NAFLD prevalence and incidence. Identifying variables that affect the estimated epidemiological measures is essential to all stakeholders, including patients, researchers, healthcare providers, and policymakers. Besides helping with the research on disease etiology, it helps to identify individuals at risk of the disease, which in turn will outline the focus of the preventive measures and help to fittingly tailor individualized treatments, targeted prevention, screening, or treatment programs. Several studies suggest differences in the prevalence and severity of NAFLD by race or ethnicity, which may be linked to differences in lifestyle, diet, metabolic comorbidity profile, and genetic background, among others. Race/ethnicity research is essential as it can provide valuable information regarding biological and genetic differences among people with similar cultural, dietary, and geographical backgrounds. In this review, we examined the existing literature on race/ethnicity differences in susceptibility to NAFLD and discussed the contributing variables to such differences, including diet and physical activity, the comorbidity profile, and genetic susceptibility. We also reviewed the limitations of race/ethnicity studies in NAFLD.