Fat builds up in the liver; however, the fat buildup is not due to alcohol use. When the fat accompanies inflammation and liver cell damage, the condition is called nonalcoholic steatohepatitis, or NASH, with “steato” meaning fat, and “hepatitis” meaning inflammation of the liver. The inflammation and damage can cause fibrosis, which eventually can lead to cirrhosis.

Extra fat in the liver has many causes and is more common in people who

  • are overweight or obese.
  • have diabetes—a condition characterized by high blood glucose, also called high blood sugar.
  • have high blood cholesterol and triglycerides, called hyperlipidemia.
  • have high blood pressure.
  • have metabolic syndrome—a group of traits and medical conditions linked to being overweight and obese that makes people more likely to develop both cardiovascular disease and type 2 diabetes. Metabolic syndrome is defined as the presence of any three of the following: large waist size, high triglycerides in the blood, abnormal levels of cholesterol in the blood, high blood pressure, and higher than normal blood glucose levels. NASH may represent the liver component of the metabolic syndrome.