J Clin Exp Hepatol 2013 Jun 28;3(2):106-13. Epub 2012 Dec 28.
Storr Liver Unit, Westmead Millennium Institute, University of Sydney and Westmead Hospital, Westmead, New South Wales 2145, Australia.
The Asia Pacific region is the most diverse and the most populous region in the world. Recent socioeconomic changes have resulted in an emerging epidemic of non-communicable diseases such as type 2 diabetes and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. The prevalence of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease in Asian Pacific countries now approximates that seen in Western countries. This increase is fueled by rising obesity, partly due to adoption of Western style diets and exposure to compounds such as high fructose corn syrup that are not included in traditional diets. Furthermore, South Asian populations may be more genetically susceptible via the inheritance of polymorphisms in apolipoprotein 3 that increase insulin resistance and nonalcoholic fatty liver disease. Importantly, there remains a substantial lack of data on the incidence and natural history of nonalcoholic steatohepatitis and subsequent complications such as hepatocellular carcinoma in Asian Pacific populations. This information gap prevents estimation of current and future disease burden and impedes efforts to lobby health policymakers to improve public health measures, as given the size of Asian Pacific populations, prevention rather than treatment of non-communicable diseases remains key. This review article addresses these issues and highlights research priorities for nonalcoholic fatty liver disease within the Asia Pacific region.