Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common cause of chronic liver disease among people who don't drink alcohol, and your risk for developing the condition increases along with your weight. Obesity, a poor diet and the complications that come along with those conditions -- such as type 2 diabetes, metabolic syndrome and high total cholesterol -- increase your risk of developing liver disease.
Fatty liver disease can take many forms that vary in severity, with the most severe being nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), fibrosis and cirrhosis. NAFLD can lead to liver failure.
Researchers at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden found an increased risk of death among people with NAFLD and NASH, and a study conducted at the University of Toronto found that NASH was found in 18.5 percent of severely obese patients versus 2.7 percent of lean patients [source: Wanless].
Being morbidly obese puts stress on various systems in the body, including the hepatic system (your liver is part of this system). Under prolonged stress, the liver begins to malfunction. NAFLD has very few symptoms, and one of the earliest indicators that there's a problem is an elevated level of liver enzymes.