epidemiology of non alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD)

Last reviewed 11/2022


With the rapid rise in sedentary life style, metabolic syndrome and obesity, prevalence of NAFLD amongst the general population has increased considerably. 

  • worldwide prevalence of NAFLD is thought to be 20% in the general population and up to 70% in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus (1)  
  • the community-based Framingham heart study population has reported a prevalence of 17% (19% in men and 15% in women) with the prevalence approaching 90% in patients considering bariatric surgery (2)
  • NAFLD is the most common cause of chronically elevated LFTs in the United States in both diabetic and nondiabetic individuals
  • with respect to patients with NAFLD, 60-95% are obese, 28-55% have type 2 diabetes, and 20-92% have hyperlipidemia (3)

Prevalence of NAFLD

  • increases with age
  • is higher in men than in women
    • in a study of 26,527 subjects undergoing medical checkups, the prevalence of NAFLD was 31% in men and 16% in women
  • in hispanic individuals is significantly higher and in non-hispanic blacks is significantly lower when compared to non-hispanic whites (4).

Prevalence of NAFLD in High Risk Groups

  • patients with severe obesity undergoing bariatric surgery
    • the prevalence of NAFLD can exceed 90%
    • up to 5% of patients may have unsuspected cirrhosis
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus patients
    • ultrasonographic studies have reported a 69% prevalence of NAFLD in type 2 diabetes patients
  • dyslipidemia
    • the prevalence of NAFLD was estimated to be 50% in patients attending lipid clinics