Non-Alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease

Childhood obesity is an epidemic in the country, and along with it, so are the health issues associated with obesity, including fatty liver disease. Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is associated with obesity and is by far the most common severe liver disease nationwide. NAFLD can lead to a more severe condition called non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which adds inflammation and scarring to fatty liver disease and can lead to liver cirrhosis. Studies show that 20-40% of obese people develop NASH, and weight reduction can reverse the disease.

The Lurie Children’s Difference

Patients with NASH are treated by our dedicated, multidisciplinary team that includes pediatric liver specialists, a registered dietitian, nurses and a social worker. Your family is an important part of our team approach, because we know that a child's health affects the whole family. Our staff is ready to partner with you in order to reach a common goal to improve the health and well-being of your child.

Our team of specialists also conducts laboratory and clinical research projects to help promote patient care and better educate families. NASH laboratory research  includes the study of NASH and its underlying causes. Our team has recently been included in a nationwide clinical study called the Clinical Research Network in NASH. In this study, the top centers from around the country are banding together with funding from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve the care of people with fatty liver disease. Learn more about our program’s clinical research.

What to Expect

Since weight loss can greatly help to reduce the amount of excess fat in liver cells, our team works with obese patients and their families to help the child lose weight. Our comprehensive treatment can include educating families on diet and nutrition, helping them create an exercise plan and set exercise goals, helping them recognize habits that contribute to an intake of too many calories and helping them devise a realistic diet plan to ensure they get the necessary amount of calories from healthy foods each day.

Our Specialists

The members of the NASH team are Peter F. Whitington, MD; Mark Fishbein, MD; Therese Hess, RN, BSN; Cindy Riazi, RN, BSN, CPN; and Sally Ritz, RD, CSP, LDN. The program is led by Dr. Whitington, who is also Director of the Siragusa Transplantation Center and the Sally Burnett Searle Professor of Pediatrics and Transplantation. He is board-certified in pediatric transplant hepatology and pediatric gastroenterology.

Make an Appointment

If you’d like to request an appointment with one of our specialists, call 1.800.543.7362 (1.800.KIDS DOC®). You can also request an appointment online.


Your support is important in helping us continue to make a difference in the lives of patients and families. Lurie Children’s relies on philanthropic funding to enhance its programs, services and research for children. To learn more, please contact the Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago Foundation at, call 312.227.7500 or make a gift today.