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When someone is overweight or obese, too much fat can be stored in the liver. This can lead to a disease called non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, or NAFLD. In some children and adults, the extra fat in the liver becomes a more severe problem, causing inflammation and scar tissue. When this happens, it is called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, (pronounced stee-at-oh-hep-a-titus), or NASH. Over time, NASH can lead to severe scarring, called cirrhosis (sir-oh-sis). Cirrhosis can lead to liver failure and loss of liver function. Unfortunately today even children in elementary school are presenting with more and more advanced liver disease from this process.
Besides obesity, other risk factors for NAFLD include many features of the metabolic syndrome, such as:
Additionally, risk can be increased by race and ethnicity (Hispanics and Native Americans are at greater risk), as well as increasing age.
The elimination of excess weight is the most important goal in the treatment of NAFLD or NASH. We use the following to achieve this goal:
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