Obesity triples kidney failure risk

May 12, 2006 at 12:26 PM
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UPPSALA, Sweden, May 12 (UPI) -- Swedish researchers said Friday that obese patients have three times the risk of kidney failure vs. their healthy counterparts.

But more surprisingly, even non-obese, "overweight" individuals were at higher risk.

"Our results confirm an accumulating body of clinical and experimental data implicating obesity as an important causative factor in kidney disease," said lead study author Elisabeth Ejerblad of Uppsala University, Sweden.

The research team looked at body mass index and other risk factors in 926 Swedish patients with moderately severe chronic renal failure and compared the data to 998 healthy individuals.

They found that a BMI of 30 or higher was a strong risk factor for CRF; in fact, patients defined as clinically obese, regardless of age, were three to four times more likely to develop CRF, the Swedish researchers concluded.

Also, women classified as morbidly obese -- or those with a BMI of 35 or higher -- have a higher risk of developing CRF.

The team also saw that even patients who were not obese, but still overweight -- having a BMI of 25 or higher -- at age 20 or older also had triple the risk compared to lower-weight people.

"Because of the high rates of ESRD and death, it is of the utmost importance to identify potentially preventable causes or CRF," Ejerblad said. "Rates of both obesity and CRF have risen rapidly in recent years but few studies have looked at the possible relationship between the two."

She added, "Based on our findings, we estimate that obesity causes 15 percent of CRF in men and 11 percent in women. The excess risk for CRF among obese people appears mainly to be driven by a high prevalence of hypertension and/or type II diabetes, but additional pathways cannot be ruled out."

The findings appear in the June issue of the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.

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