As of 2015, two of the most common liver diseases in the United States are nonalcoholic fatty liver disease and alcoholic liver disease, according to WebMD. As much as 20 percent of the adult population, and up to 6 million children, may have nonalcoholic fatty liver disease or nonalcoholic steatohepatisis.
Risks for developing nonalcoholic fatty liver disease include obesity, diabetes, high cholesterol and high triglycerides, notes the American Liver Foundation. Poor eating habits and rapid weight loss may also lead to nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. When the fatty liver swells, a more serious condition called nonalcoholic steatohepatisis can develop. Swelling of the liver could also lead to cirrhosis and possibly liver cancer.
Alcoholic liver disease affects more than 90 percent of the 15 million Americans who abuse or overuse alcohol, says WebMD. In these types of cases, a fatty liver can occur after drinking moderate or large amounts of alcohol. Sometimes, an acute form of fatty liver disease develops after binge drinking over a short period of time. Genetics, obesity, diet, too much iron in the blood and hepatitis C may increase a patient's risk of alcoholic liver disease.
A fatty liver occurs when 5 to 10 percent of the liver's weight comes from fat cells, according to the American Liver Foundation. Measurements of liver enzymes in the blood, coupled with an ultrasound of the organ, help physicians diagnose fatty livers. Diet and exercise may help reverse the condition.