Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease: Time for a Name Change?

According to a story from, a panel of experts is recommending a name change for non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) and is instead proposing that the condition be called metabolic-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD). The proposal was first released in the scientific journal Gastroenterology. The authors project that as much as a fourth of the global human population has fatty liver disease.

About Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, also known as metabolic-associated fatty liver disease, is a condition characterized by excessive accumulation of fat in the liver accompanied by insulin resistance that isn’t the result of excess alcohol consumption. The condition has the potential to progress to more severe form called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) or liver cirrhosis. There isn’t necessarily a definitive direct cause of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, but several risk factors have been identified, with the most prominent being obesity. Other factors include diet, high blood pressure, diabetes, genetics, an inactive lifestyle, and microbial imbalances. Many people with the illness do not display symptoms, but jaundice, abdominal pain, malaise, and fatigue can occur. The disease can be treated by losing weight, exercising regularly, and reducing fat in the diet. Medications or other interventions should be reserved for NASH or more serious liver disease. To learn more about non-alcoholic fatty liver disease, click here.

What’s in a Name?

The name of a disease may not seem all that important at first. After all, why confuse people by calling for a name change now when it has been known by a certain name for years or even decades? Won’t this make it more difficult for people to find information? However, the name of a disease state is actually pretty important, especially when the name is intended to be descriptive. The authors are calling for the new name of metabolic-associated fatty liver disease because this name more accurately depicts the driving mechanisms behind it and could even improve efforts to treat it effectively.

The fat buildup is first and foremost the result of metabolic dysfunction, so this name change is intended to reflect that. The authors also say that the old name had led to a generic one-size-fits all approach to managing the illness, which is far from ideal. Meanwhile, other researchers are also investigating further to determine different sub-types of the disease, which could lead to better trial designs and treatment development practices.

Learn more about this study here.


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