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Obesity increases the risk for kidney failure



Being overweight has most commonly been associated with higher risk for hypertension and diabetes and the complications of those conditions. Researchers have considered one of the complications of high blood pressure and diabetes to be kidney failure, but in a recent research article Dr. Chi-yuan Hsu and his colleagues (Ann Int Med 2006;144(1):21-28) report that increasing weight is in and of itself a risk factor for renal disease--independent of whether there is involvement of hypertension or diabetes.

In the last twenty years in the United States the number of people with ESRD (End Stage Renal Disease, or kidney failure) has doubled, and the number of U.S. citizens affected is expected to increase to over 650,000 by the year 2010. At the same time, obesity is increasing, and Dr. Hsu looked at whether there is a link between the rising rate of obesity and kidney failure.

The study was based on information collected from members of the Kaiser Permanente health plan who agreed to participate in health testing between 1964 and 1985. Body Mass Index (BMI) was calculated from the data and then linked to cases of ESRD found in the U.S. Renal Data System through the year 2000.

The researchers then adjusted their analysis to account for variables like blood pressure and diabetes. When the data was analyzed, the results showed a clear association with rising BMI and risk for ESRD. No difference in the rate of kidney failure was found for age, gender or race. The results were in many cases based on a single measurement, but when those participants with more than with one measure were considered the results were similar. This conclusion supports a recent similar study of data collected in Framingham, Massachusetts.

What this means for you

More and more the research shows that obesity will shorten your life. Do you need to reduce your BMI? Find out with out BMI calculator.

First posted: May 16, 2006