Saudi Journal of Gastroenterology
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Year : 2022  |  Volume : 28  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 413-416

The NAFLD–MAFLD debate through the lens of the Arab world

1 Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Aswan University, Aswan, Egypt
2 Tropical Medicine and Gastroenterology Department, Faculty of Medicine, Assiut University, Cairo, Egypt
3 Endemic Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Helwan University, Cairo, Egypt

Correspondence Address:
Prof. Mohamed El-Kassas
Endemic Medicine Department, Faculty of Medicine, Helwan University, AinHelwan - 11795, Cairo
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/sjg.sjg_314_22

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The most common liver disease in the world is fatty liver disease related to metabolic dysfunction, yet neither patients nor medical professionals are fully aware of this. The disease, formerly known for decades as non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD), has been renamed metabolic (dysfunction)-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD), with many international consensus groups making recommendations on how the condition should be diagnosed and treated. This point of view explores the nomenclature change from the standpoint of Arab medical professionals and patients. The call for a name change brought up serious issues with the current nomenclature, which refers to the condition as NAFLD, and its diagnostic criteria, including the necessity for excluding alcohol consumption. The Arab world has its unique situation as regards both old and new nomenclatures. This is because of the low alcohol consumption rates in most Arab Muslim countries besides the reported high prevalence rates of obesity and its related comorbidities in the region. In our opinion, such unclarities acted as a significant roadblock to several crucial aspects of disease management in the Arab countries, including patient–doctor communication, patient awareness, partnership working, patient motivation to make lifestyle changes, and promotion of multiple health behavior changes. Many Arab world hepatologists thus wholeheartedly endorse this call to redefine the disease as they believe it will eventually positively impact the understanding and awareness of fatty liver disease, enhance patient treatment and quality of life, and reduce the load on the healthcare system.

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