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The precise prevalence and risk factors for the development of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) in nonobese adults remains unclear. The objective of this study was to investigate the prevalence of NAFLD and risk factors for its development in a nonobese Chinese population.We firstly investigated the prevalence and factors associated with the presence of NAFLD in nonobese (body mass index (BMI) <25 kg/m2) Chinese subjects via a cross-sectional study, and then analyzed the risk factors for the development of NAFLD via a subsequent prospective 5-year follow-up of the same population.A total of 6,905 nonobese subjects were enrolled in the cross-sectional study. Baseline evaluation revealed that the prevalence of NAFLD was 7.27%. A total of 5,562 subjects who were free of NAFLD at baseline completed the follow-up study, and 494 (8.88%) had developed NAFLD during the 5-year follow-up. Further analyses revealed that age, gender, BMI, waist circumference, triglyceride, high-density lipoprotein (HDL) cholesterol, serum uric acid, hemoglobin, and platelet count were independently associated with the presence and development of NAFLD.NAFLD is prevalent in the nonobese Chinese population, and a substantial proportion of subjects developed NAFLD over the 5-year follow-up period. Special attention should be paid to the factors associated with the presence and development of NAFLD in nonobese subjects, to improve prevention and management of NAFLD.