Fatty Liver Disease

This information is useful for children and adults
liver illustration
Why Yale Medicine?
  • We research causes of fatty liver disease to develop improved treatments.
  • Yale Medicine offers all non-surgical weight loss interventions.
  • We develop individualized treatment plans for every patient.

When you gain too much weight, it doesn't just accumulate on the outside of your body. Fat may start to deposit inside, too, within organs such as the liver. 

This condition is called fatty liver disease. Liver cells, or hepatocytes, fill with large fat droplets and can become stressed, damaged or scarred—some even die. Excessive inflammation in the liver called steatohepatitis can then develop and progress to cirrhosis.

“Most people aren’t even aware fatty liver disease exists. Large numbers of people are affected by this disease, and they don’t realize it,' says Wajahat Mehal, PhD, MD, director of Yale Medicine's Metabolic Health & Weight Loss Program and associate professor of digestive diseases at Yale School of Medicine. “This is an epidemic that has crept up on us."

At Yale Medicine, if you have abnormal liver test results, we'll look for the potential causes of those results so that we can develop an effective plan to help you make healthy lifestyle changes and lose weight.

Most people who have a body mass index (BMI) over 27 have fatty liver disease. People who gain weight in the abdomen are at greater risk than those who gain weight around their hips or shoulders. This weight distribution in the abdomen is more common among men, putting them at slightly higher risk compared to women. Fatty liver disease typically occurs alongside other diseases related to obesity. For example, about 70 percent of people with type 2 diabetes also have fatty liver disease.