Obesity is a major risk factor for chronic kidney disease (CKD) as well as kidney failure, three researchers wrote in an editorial aiming to put the spotlight on the issue for the 2017 World Kidney Day on March 9.
Since obesity is one of the major — and increasing — global health issues in the developed world, it is crucial to make people aware of this association, particularly since obesity is preventable. This was the focus of this year’s World Kidney Day, which aimed to raise awareness of the problem by influencing policymakers and inspiring preventive behaviors.
The review, “Obesity and Kidney Disease: Hidden Consequences of the Epidemic,” was published in the Journal of Nephrology.
The three physicians, who wrote the review on behalf of the World Kidney Day Steering Committee, noted that there is plenty of research supporting the notion that obesity drives kidney disease. In addition, the risk for other kidney complications, such as nephrolithiasis and kidney cancer, is also increased.
Obesity goes hand in hand with what is known as metabolic syndrome — a physiological state in which most metabolic processes are severely disturbed. Kidney disease develops in part as a consequence of diabetes and high blood pressure — other key features of metabolic syndrome.
But researchers also underscored that abnormal levels of “obesity-hormones” contribute to driving inflammation, oxidative stress, and activation of the kidney renin-angiotensin-aldosterone hormonal system. All these processes, including fat accumulation within the kidneys themselves, cause the kidneys to malfunction and eventually lead to chronic kidney disease.
To counter the current trends, the researchers suggested that large public health interventions are needed. As a first step, researchers need to perform population surveys to identify obese patients at risk of developing CKD.
In addition, researchers need to gather more evidence of the actual benefits of current interventions. This, they suggest, should be done by both improving the documentation of existing knowledge, and also by conducting clinical trials.
Finally, surveillance programs should be set up to follow people at risk after they are identified or undergo interventions.
“It is incumbent upon the entire healthcare community to devise long-ranging strategies toward improving the understanding of the links between obesity and kidney diseases, and to determine optimal strategies to stem the tide. The 2017 World Kidney Day is an important opportunity to increase education and awareness to that end,” the authors concluded.