Obesity and Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (NAFLD)

“Don’t drink so much. You will damage your liver.”

Ever heard anyone utter these words? Whenever we see someone drinking, we warn about their liver first. But do you know it is not only alcohol that can damage your liver? There is another type of disease too that can permanently damage the liver. Known as Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, the major cause of it is obesity. We all know obesity has become an epidemic. It is not just obesity, which is a matter of concern, but rather how obesity tends to damage the body. Before we divulge further on how obesity is the cause of NAFLD and how weight loss surgery can help a person, let’s first tell you more about the disease itself.

Four Stages of NAFLD

There are four stages of NAFLD

  1. Simple Fatty Liver: Also known as steatosis, this is the primary stage of NAFLD. It is mainly a harmless build-up of fat in the liver cells. There is no other way to detect them unless any tests are carried out for different reasons. This can be treated very easily.
  2. Non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH): The second stage of NAFLD, this occurs when the liver becomes inflamed.
  3. Fibrosis: The next stage is the fibrosis in which constant inflammation of liver causes scar tissue around it. Even though it is an extreme condition, the liver can still function normally. If caught in this stage it is treatable.
  4. Cirrhosis: This is the last stage where the liver gets permanently damaged. After years of inflammation, the liver becomes scarred, lumpy and also shrinks. In many cases, cirrhosis also leads to liver cancer.

Symptoms

As mentioned above, the first stage does not have any symptoms. But NASH and fibrosis have some symptoms:

  • Fatigue
  • Pain at the upper right side of your abdomen
  • Liver or spleen becomes enlarged
  • Jaundice
  • Swelling of the belly

Along with these symptoms cirrhosis has more complicated symptoms, which are:

  • Mental confusion
  • Fluid retention
  • Internal bleeding
  • Loss of liver function

Causes

One of the major causes of NAFLD is obesity. There are several other causes like type 2 diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and metabolic syndrome. But on the other hand, many time these diseases are also caused by obesity. Sedentary lifestyle habits and genetics can cause someone’s weight to increase. If a person becomes obese and their BMI becomes 40 or above, it can make them resistant to insulin, which can lead to type 2 diabetes. Similarly, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and metabolic syndromes can also be the results of obesity. When the liver becomes overwhelmed and starts storing excess fat due to obesity, NAFLD appears.

Prevention

Prevention is better than cure. The best way to prevent NAFLD is to maintain your weight. If you are an obese or overweight person, you will need to bring your weight down to a normal level. Weight loss surgery is an excellent way to bring your weight to a normal level.

So, live a healthy life in order to maintain your weight and you will be able to stay away from all the other obesity-related diseases that can lead to NAFLD.