Overweight in Youth Tied to Future Risk of Kidney Disease

Being overweight starting in young adulthood may significantly increase individuals’ risk of developing kidney disease by the time they become seniors, according to a new study in the Journal of the American Society of Nephrology. The findings emphasize the importance of excess weight as a risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD).

Because many populations across the globe continue to gain excess weight, Richard Silverwood, PhD, and Dorothea Nitsch, MD, of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine in England, and their colleagues conducted a study to see what sort of effect being overweight or obese might have on kidney health. The researchers analyzed information from the Medical Research Council National Survey of Health and Development, a sample of children in England, Scotland, and Wales who were born in the same week in March 1946. A total of 4,584 participants had available data, including BMI at ages 20, 26, 36, 43, 53, and 60 to 64.

The major study findings include the following:

• Participants who were overweight beginning early in adulthood (aged 26 or 36) were twice as likely to have CKD at age 60 to 64 compared with those who first became overweight at age 60 to 64 or never became overweight.

• The link between overweight and CKD only partially was explained by taking diabetes and hypertension into account.

• Larger waist-to-hip ratios (“apple-shaped” bodies) at ages 43 and 53 were linked to CKD at age 60 to 64.

“We estimated that 36% of CKD cases at age 60 to 64 in the current US population could be avoided if nobody became overweight until at least that age, assuming the same associations as in the analysis sample,” Nitsch says.

It’s unclear whether the timing of overweight onset or the duration of being overweight drives the link with CKD seen in the study. Either explanation suggests that preventing excess weight gain in early adulthood could have a considerable effect on the prevalence of CKD, according to the researchers.

Source: American Society of Nephrology