Healthy Body Weight, Healthy Kidneys

Kidney health can be affected by obesity but losing weight may turn things around

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) Keeping a healthy body weight is important for the heart and joints. Losing weight may also be important for healthy kidneys.

A recent review of published studies showed that obesity is linked to poor kidney health in a number of ways.

Obesity can affect the kidneys directly, but can also lead to high blood pressure and diabetes, which may lead to kidney damage. The up-side is that some studies also showed that losing weight may help to lower risks for kidney disease.

The authors concluded that keeping a healthy body weight and a healthy lifestyle is important for kidney health.

"Talk to your doctor about ways to lose weight."

The review, led by Radica Z. Alicic, MD, of the University of Washington School of Medicine in Spokane, Washington, included studies that examined the relationship between obesity and kidney function.

Both obesity and kidney disease have been on the rise in recent years.

The research showed that kidney disease has been linked specifically to obesity. Very obese people often had kidney proteins in their urine, which means the kidneys were strained. Also, some kidney cancers occurred more often in people who were obese.

The authors said that obesity may also have an indirect effect on kidney health. High blood pressure and diabetes were common in obese people. Both of these conditions can damage the kidneys.

The authors said that there were not any trials that looked at how weight loss affected kidney health or kidney disease. But some new research seemed to show that losing weight may help lower risk factors for kidney disease.

Specifically, some studies found that kidney proteins in the urine decreased when obese people lost weight through bariatric surgery. These studies did not look at kidney function, but fewer proteins in the urine may mean the kidneys were not as strained.

Losing weight may also tackle some of the indirect risks. Some studies in the review showed that losing weight lowered blood pressure. Other studies showed that losing weight made it easier for diabetics to control blood sugar and, in some cases, led to diabetic remission.

The authors concluded, “Obesity prevention with healthy lifestyles, including avoidance of overfeeding and increased physical activity, is essential to kidney health, along with overall well being.”

The researchers also said that more research is needed to see if kidney health can be improved through weight loss.

This study was published in the March issue of Advances in Chronic Kidney Disease. The authors reported no conflicts of interest. Funding information was not provided with the review.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 26, 2013
Last Updated:
August 15, 2013