Epidemiology of non-alcoholic and alcoholic fatty liver diseases
Liver diseases are fast emerging as global health priorities. Fatty liver is described in the setting of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) as well as alcoholic liver disease (ALD), the pathogenesis of excess fat being different in the two conditions while both are important components of the changing face of burden of liver diseases worldwide. They are intimately associated with a globalized economy and an increasingly homogenous socio- cultural order with a westernized lifestyle. The accompanying adoption of a progressively sedentary life, consumption of diet dense in calories facilitate development of NAFLD while a spiraling upward trend in alcohol use along with earlier age of drinking as well as increased amount of per capita alcohol consumption increases the prevalence of ALD globally. Adverse health outcomes in NAFLD as well as ALD are caused not only by progressive liver fibrosis that is the most significant factor for liver related and all-cause mortality in both but also by non-liver (cardiovascular, cancer, accidents, neurological) clinical outcomes that calls for a multidisciplinary and social approach to these conditions. We present here an outline of facets of epidemiology of both NAFLD as well as ALD along with its’ public health implications. A broad-based integrated approach that incorporates social, behavioral as well as biological targets need to be undertaken at a health system level in a planned manner for these evolving liver health priorities that disproportionately challenges the low- and middle-income countries of Asia, South America and Africa.