UPPSALA, Sweden—Obesity greatly increases the risk of chronic renal failure in patients, even for those who do not have diabetes or high blood pressure, according to a study in June’s Journal of the American Society of Nephrology.
Being overweight at age 20 or older tripled the risk of kidney failure.
"Our results confirm an accumulating body of clinical and experimental data implicating obesity as an important causative factor in kidney disease," said Dr. Elisabeth Ejerblad of Uppsala University, Sweden, lead author of the new study.
Researchers studied patients’ body mass index and other potential risk factors in 926 Swedish patients with moderately severe renal failure. Nine hundred ninety-eight people with normal kidney function were studied for comparison.
Obesity—defined as a BMI of 30 or higher—was a strong risk factor for chronic renal failure. Subjects who met the definition of obesity at any age were three to four times more likely to develop CRF. For women, morbid obesity—BMI 35 or higher—was also a risk factor for CRF.
Risk was also increased for people who fell short of the study definition of obesity but were still overweight. Risk of CRF tripled for men and women who were overweight—BMI 25 or higher—at age 20 or later.
The link between obesity and chronic renal failure was strongest for diabetes-related kidney disease.
"Chronic renal failure is an escalating health problem throughout the world," Ejerblad said. "Because of the high rates of ESRD and death, it is of the utmost importance to identify potentially preventable causes or CRF.”