Obesity is diagnosed when a patient has a Body Mass Index (BMI) higher than 30, and morbid obesity with a BMI higher than 40. The excess weight can lead to a series of limitations in a patient’s normal activity, but also creates stress in the body and organ systems, causing associated diseases or comorbidities. Along with diabetes, hypertension, metabolic disease, cancer, heart disease, and pulmonary disease, there is also an association between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity.
Development of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver by Obese Patients
Obesity is scientifically proven to be related to liver problems, including type II diabetes, liver cancer and nonalcoholic fatty liver. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is characterized by an increase in intrahepatic triglyceride (IHTG) content, which can occur simultaneously with inflammation and fibrosis. The development of the disease is associated with the excess fat that accumulates in the organ, despite the fact that patients consume little to no alcohol.
The authors of the study “Obesity and Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Biochemical, Metabolic and Clinical Implications” explained the correlation between nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and obesity. The disease is identified by the presence of steatosis, which occurs when the rate of hepatic fatty acid is greater than the rate of fatty acid oxidation and export. The presence of steatosis is also consistent in variations in glucose, fatty acid and lipoprotein metabolism, and when combined with adipose tissue, hepatic, and systemic inflammation, it can result in the development of insulin resistance, dyslipidemia and other cardiometabolic, which are risk factors for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.
Obesity-Related Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Prevention
Nonalcoholic fatty liver has no visible symptoms, and the disease is often only diagnosed when there is also a more severe liver condition, which means that regular examination of the state of the liver may be helpful in preventing it. Patients who are obese and also suffer from type II diabetes must be particularly aware and visit the doctor regularly, since they are even more likely to develop the disease.
However, a healthy diet based on fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fats, combined with regular exercise, are still the best methods to both prevent or treat obesity, and prevent nonalcoholic fatty liver. In addition, obese patients should avoid alcohol in order to prevent all liver diseases. There a series of medically supervised weight loss programs that can reduce the difficulties in attaining a healthy weight.
Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease and Obesity Treatment
There is currently no standard treatment for the disease, and physicians often focus on the primary disease that causes it — in this case, obesity. Weight loss, through diet and exercise, which can be combined with pre-packed meals, pharmacotherapy or surgery, are crucial in the treatment of nonalcoholic fatty liver. In addition, physicians may recommend vaccination against hepatitis A and B to protect patients from viruses that can cause additional damages in the liver.
Treating nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is crucial not only due to the problems from the disease, but also since other more severe diseases can result from it. Type II diabetes, liver cancer, and cirrhosis are diseases than can result or be aggravated due to the presence of nonalcoholic fatty liver. Nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) is the most likely consequence, also resultant from fat in the liver, along with inflammation and liver damage, and currently the third most common liver disorder in North America.