An article in the January 2011 issue of the Harvard Health Letter reveals that the epidemic of obesity has increased the occurrence of fatty liver disease. Previously, most cases of fatty liver disease were related to excess alcohol consumption, but now, many cases are related to excess body fat, which can lead to Type II diabetes. Fatty liver disease affects 70-90% of those who are obese and/or have diabetes.
Abdominal obesity can lead to metabolic syndrome (elevated blood pressure and levels of triglycerides and blood sugar, and low HDL (good cholesterol). Overfilled fat cells become resistant to insulin (which lowers blood sugar by storing it in the cells) resulting in excess fatty acids in the blood. Fat then accumulates in liver cells, which can lead to inflammation and liver tissue damage. This can in turn bring about liver fibrosis (buildup of fibrous tissue) or cirrhosis (buildup of scar tissue). Cirrhosis increases the risk of liver cancer.
Fatty liver disease increases the risk of heart attack and stroke because a fatty liver produces inflammatory factors that can promote the deposition of plaque in the arteries, leading to arterial narrowing.
The only effective treatment for fatty liver disease is to lose weight.
If you want to avoid or reverse fatty liver disease, avoid gaining unnecessary body fat or lose existing excess body fat through a program of good nutrition and exercise. Both caloric restriction and exercise are essential parts of any weight-loss program.