Global Prevalence of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease on the Rise

Researchers sought to estimate the worldwide prevalence and incidence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease.

The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has significantly increased and continues to rise, according to a study published in the Lancet Gastroenterology & Hepatology.

Researchers of the systematic review and meta-analysis identified 28,557 records from a literature search in various databases. For analyzing prevalence of NAFLD, researchers included 72 publications with a total of 1,030,160 patients. For analyzing incidence of NAFLD, researchers included 16 publications with 381,765 patients. Studies that only included or excluded specific patient groups, such as those with obesity, were excluded. Studies without a patient age range of at least 30 to 65 years were excluded, and data for pediatric patients was not utilized.

The primary outcomes of the study were the global prevalence and incidence of NAFLD. Additionally, researchers assessed the trend of prevalence over time and the difference in prevalence and incidence between male and female patients.

The overall global prevalence of NAFLD was 32.4% (95% CI, 29.9%-34.9%), increasing from 25.5% (20.1%-31.0%) in or before 2005 to 37.8% (32.4%-43.3%) in 2016 or afterward. Prevalence was significantly higher in men than women at 39.7% (36.6%-42.8%) and 25.6% (22.3%-28.8%), respectively (P <.0001). The overall global incidence of NAFLD was 46.9 cases per 1000 person-years, with 70.8 cases per 1000 person-years in men compared with 29.6 cases per 1000 person-years in women (P <.0001).

Study limitations included the lack of inverse probability weighting, limitations secondary to NAFLD diagnosis sensitivity, and the source data being limited to 17 countries.

“Our findings emphasise that the worldwide prevalence of NAFLD is appreciably higher than what has been estimated previously and is continuing to rise at an alarming rate,” the study authors wrote.

Disclosure: Some study authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Pleases see the original reference for a full list of authors’ disclosures.


Riazi K, Azhari H, Charette JH, et al. The prevalence and incidence of NAFLD worldwide: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Lancet Gastroenterol Hepatol. 2022;7(9): 851-861. doi:10.1016/S2468-1253(22)00165-0

This article originally appeared on Gastroenterology Advisor