Gut Liver.  2020 Sep;14(5):537-545. 10.5009/gnl19236.

Characteristic Features of Nonalcoholic Fatty Liver Disease in Japan with a Focus on the Roles of Age, Sex and Body Mass Index

  • 1Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University Yachiyo Medical Center, Chiba, Tokyo, Japan
  • 2Department of Internal Medicine and Gastroenterology, Tokyo Women’s Medical University, Tokyo, Japan


This review provides an update on the characteristics of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), with a focus on the effects of age, sex, and body mass index. Age is a risk factor for NAFLD progression; however, extremely old patients have unique features, namely, the associations between metabolic comorbidities and NAFLD are weaker and NAFLD is not a risk factor for mortality. The prevalence of NAFLD is higher in men than in premenopausal women, whereas the reverse is true after menopause. Thus, before menopause, estrogen may have protective effects against NAFLD. Our hospital data showed that over 25% of male patients with NAFLD and almost 40% of female patients with NAFLD, especially elderly patients, were nonobese. Although histological steatosis and activity were associated with body mass index, the prevalence of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis was not. The prevalence of advanced fibrosis showed a significant sex difference. Advanced fibrosis was significantly more frequent among severely obese men but the prevalence was lower among severely obese women. This difference could be because a substantial proportion of severely obese women were premenopausal; thus, estrogen may have much stronger effects on the development of fibrosis than on obesity. Further studies are required to develop tailored management strategies


Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease; Age, sex differ- ence; Lean NAFLD; Obesity; Body mass index
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