Obese and overweight teens may be at higher risk for developing advanced kidney disease as adults, Israeli researchers report.
If, however, they lose weight their chances may be lowered, experts say.
“This study comes as close as one can to predicting that losing weight can reduce the risk of kidney disease,” said Dr. Kirsten Johansen, a professor in the division of nephrology at the University of California, San Francisco.
Johansen, who wrote an accompanying editorial with the study, said that “this gives us one more reason we need to address childhood obesity and overweight, but it’s hard to do.”
There isn’t an easy solution to the obesity epidemic, but if it can be halted, fewer people will develop heart disease, kidney disease and diabetes, she said.
Johansen, however, is optimistic. “The rate of obesity and overweight has gone up quickly in our kids. If we can turn this around, it could go down quickly as well,” she said. “I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s easier to get kids to drink soda than eat vegetables.”
The report was published online Oct. 29 in the Archives of Internal Medicine.
For the study, a team led by Dr. Asaf Vivante, of the Edmond and Lily Safra Children’s Hospital, Sheba Medical Center in Tel Hashomer, collected data on almost 1.2 million 17-year-olds who were examined before service in the Israeli military between January 1967 and December 1997. The researchers then linked these teens to the Israeli end-stage kidney disease registry.
Over 30 years of follow-up, they found more than 700 men and 160 women developed end-stage kidney disease.
Vivante’s group estimated being overweight or obese and being treated for diabetes increased the risk of developing end-stage kidney disease. The risk was increased sixfold for those who were overweight and 19 times for those who were obese, the researchers reported.