Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is emerging as the most common cause of liver disease in the United States. The prevalence varies dramatically when comparing individuals of different races and ethnicities. Rates are highest in Hispanic patient populations compared with non-Hispanic whites and African Americans, despite similar rates of the metabolic syndrome and risk factors. This observation remains poorly characterized; variations in genes that effect lipid metabolism may play a role. This article describes the prevalence of NAFLD in patients of different races or ethnicities, and discusses pathophysiologic mechanisms that may explain why these differences exist.
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