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Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in obese adults: clinical aspects and current management strategies



Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is the most common chronic liver disorder whose prevalence is strongly linked to the current epidemic of obesity in many western countries. The prevalence of NAFLD is two to four times higher in populations with pre-existing metabolic comorbidities than in the general population. The diagnosis of primary NAFLD involves establishing the presence of hepatic steatosis or steatohepatitis by imaging or histology, along with establishing the non-alcoholic nature of the disease process and excluding competing aetiologies for hepatic steatosis. Among the indirect serum biomarkers, the NAFLD fibrosis score can help to identify patients with NAFLD and with higher likelihood of having fibrosis or cirrhosis. A liver biopsy should be considered in NAFLD patients at increased risk for steatohepatitis/advanced fibrosis and in cases where a liver biopsy is necessary to exclude co-existing chronic liver diseases and other aetiologies for hepatic steatosis. The treatment and management recommendations for obesity-associated NAFLD are aimed towards weight reduction. The currently available interventions employed to promote weight loss and improve the metabolic responses in NAFLD include lifestyle modification, pharmacotherapy and bariatric surgery.