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Link Between Obesity And Fatty Liver Disease

Link Between Obesity And Fatty Liver Disease

January 6, 2021


Obesity affects our body in a variety of ways. It affects our physical characteristics, but importantly, it also increases the risk of various diseases. The non-alcoholic fatty result may also be due to obesity. A healthy diet, healthy lifestyle and medications treat and prevent the progression of fatty liver disease.


Obesity is a condition that involves the presence of an excess amount of fat in the body. People often believe that obesity only alters the outer physical characteristics of the body. This is not so. Obesity also increases the risk of various diseases, such as diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol levels, liver diseases, and cancers. Thus, people must manage their weight through a healthy lifestyle.

Doctors diagnose obesity by calculating the Body Mass Index (BMI). If you have a BMI greater than 30, you are in the category of obese people. Fortunately, obesity is a reversible condition. The rate of obesity and overweight in India is faster as compared to the world average. The world has approximately 650 million obese and 1.9 billion overweight people. In India, approximately 135 million people are obese. The prevalence of obesity in India during the period 1998-2015 rose from 2.2% to 5.1%, while the prevalence of overweight increased from 8.4% to 15.5% during the same period.

Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (Nafld)

Fatty liver disease may occur due to two reasons. Excessive consumption of alcohol results in fat accumulation inside the liver and alters the normal functioning of hepatocytes. This is known as alcoholic fatty liver disease. Another type of fatty liver disease develops due to reasons other than alcohol. This is known as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. The reasons may include obesity, overweight, high cholesterol levels, diabetes, and high triglyceride levels. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease comprises a full spectrum of liver disease that may affect the liver in various ways. These may include steatosis, cirrhosis, and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH).

Patients with NAFLD experience fatigue, abdominal pain, spleen enlargement, jaundice, and ascites. If left untreated, the condition causes various complications. In almost 5-10% of the patients, the condition may progress to develop liver cirrhosis. Liver cirrhosis is a serious condition and requires immediate medical intervention. NASH is another complication of NAFLD, which results in liver inflammation and accompanying symptoms.

Link Between Obesity And Fatty Liver Disease

There is a strong link between obesity and non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Many people become obese due to various reasons, including a sedentary lifestyle, genetics, and eating disorders. Many of the people with obesity develop type 2 diabetes. In type 2 diabetes, there is cellular insulin resistance. The pancreas releases insulin to manage the sugar and cholesterol levels. However, the amount of fat in the obese patient is high and is outside the manageable purview of the pancreas. This results in the accumulation of fat in the liver leading to fatty liver disease.

Once the fatty liver develops, it reduces the ability to manage cholesterol levels resulting in further fat accumulation. If left untreated, the condition progresses to cause serious complications. When serious complications such as cirrhosis or liver cancer occur, the liver undergoes irreversible damage, and the medications may only help in subsiding the symptoms to some extent. The only way left is to undergo liver transplantation.

The condition of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease is more prevalent than alcoholic fatty liver disease, especially in developed countries. This is because of the lifestyle of the people living in these countries, easy access to unhealthy and fast food, and reduction of an active lifestyle. Almost one-fourth of the people in the USA are obese, while half of the people are overweight. These are serious statistics that need to be changed as soon as possible to avoid further health complications. The people in developed countries require immediate attention to treat obesity. Not only the adults, but the children are also increasingly suffering from obesity. The reason may be genetic or food disorders, but things need to be corrected.

It is important to note that the condition is not acute, and the patient does not experience any symptoms until the condition affects liver function significantly. Thus, the patients, who are at risk, must visit the clinic for a routine check to diagnose the disease at an early stage. This will improve the prognosis, the quality of life, and reduces the need for liver transplantation.


One of the primary treatment options for managing fatty liver disease due to obesity is to have a healthy weight and to manage weight through various strategies. It may include eating a healthy diet, leading a healthy life, and incorporate exercise into your daily routine. The diet will help in treating and preventing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. 

Limit the number of carbohydrates in your diet and incorporate fresh vegetables and fruits in the diet. You should also incorporate protein foods in your diet. This may include fish, lean meat, and low-fat dairy products.

Various medications may result in lowering sugar and cholesterol levels. The medications include atorvastatin and metformin. They may be unable to directly treat the condition but can help the liver in recovering and remaining stable.


Obesity is one of the significant factors for developing non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. Thus, it is important to maintain a healthy weight to reduce the risk of developing this condition. The condition is also prevalent in children, and their weight also needs to be managed. Untreated fatty liver disease may result in serious complications that may sometimes prove fatal.