d46a20b3-9222-4e67-b992-a2a1d9a62b11A major health crisis is emerging in our nation that is flying under the radar of even health-conscious Americans. Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease used to be rare in the U.S. But today it afflicts fully 20 percent of adults and its incidence is rapidly accelerating, causing an approaching tidal wave of disability, illness, and death. “Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease is becoming the next big epidemic to hit America,” says Anurag Maheshwari, M.D., a liver disease specialist at Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Md. “Within the next few decades, fatty liver disease will become the largest cause of long-term disability in the U.S.” Not long ago, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease was so rare that many doctors had never seen a case of it. But over the last 20 years, the incidence has more than doubled, and health authorities are just now starting to realize the full scope of the crisis. Nonalcholic fatty liver disease is generally divided into two forms. One is less serious and usually doesn’t cause symptoms early in the course of the disease. It is often diagnosed in a blood test given during a routine checkup. This mild form puts patients at high risk for heart disease and diabetes. More