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Does Obesity Kill Kidneys?

Kidneys are exquisitely sensitive to many risk factors that can also accelerate atherosclerosis and heart disease. Thus, high blood pressure and diabetes are well-established risk factors for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Because both hypertension and diabetes are in turn linked to obesity, the question is: does obesity increase the risk for CKD?

This questions was now addressed by Meredith Foster and colleagues from the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute, Framingham, MA, USA, who studied the relationship between Stage 3 CKD (= moderately reduced kidney function) and BMI in the Framingham Offspring participants (n = 2,676; 52% women; mean age, 43 years) free of stage 3 CKD at baseline who participated in examination cycles 2 (1978-1981) and 7 (1998-2001). (Am J Kidney Dis)

While there was no increased risk of kindey disease in overweight participants, obese individuals had a 68% increased odds of developing Stage 3 CKD (estimated glomerular filtration rate < 59 mL/min/1.73 m(2) for women and < 64 mL/min/1.73 m(2) for men).

However, this relationship became non-significant when data was adjusted for diabetes, systolic blood pressure, hypertension treatment, current smoking status, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol level.

The authors rightly conclude that the link between obesity and CKD is largely explained by the effect of obesity on other cardiovascular risk factors like hypertension or diabetes.

Clearly, if your excess weight is raising your blood pressure and/or making you diabetic, you may need to start worrying about your kidneys.

Edmonton, Alberta


  1. Thanks for the information on obesity. I never even thought it could be connected to kidneys!

    We recently wrote an article on obesity trends at Brain Blogger. Did you know that two-thirds of America is overweight? We can always blame ourselves for this sort of thing, but could it be more? Could the destruction of neighborhoods for retail stores play a part?

    We would like to read your comments on our article. Thank you.


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  2. Interestingly, only today, I have posted a comment about a reported oxalate nephropathy after gastric bypass, in patients who have an underlying chronic kidney disease. Both postings complement each other.

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  3. In our obese rat model , the animals show proteinuria,glycosuria,polydypsia,and the kidneys show thickened glomoruli and as they near one and half year ( the time they die,cutting the normal life span to half), the cortex region is thickened, and the kidneyes are often atrophied..

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