Lifestyle-related factors often play a role in the development of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH). Obesity is the number one risk factor for NAFLD and NASH. Even a small weight gain, particularly in the waistline, is associated with nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. People with type 2 diabetes, high triglycerides or low HDL/high LDL cholesterol may also develop NAFLD. Overall risk for NAFLD, or its more advanced state, NASH, increases with age. Inactivity and poor sleep have recently been identified as potential risk factors for NAFLD.

Some people with NAFLD are not obese, don’t have diabetes and have normal blood lipids. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease can occur without any apparent risk factor. Children are being diagnosed with NAFLD at an alarming rate. However, pediatric NAFLD is usually lifestyle-related.

People living with hepatitis C who have genotype 3 are more susceptible to fatty liver disease than those living with other genotypes of the virus. The reasons for this have not yet been determined.

Last Reviewed: January 30, 2019